Guest nights fall in March
There were 3.1 million guest nights spent in short-term commercial accommodation in March 2012, down 0.8 percent from March 2011.
The national fall in guest nights was largely due to a drop of 3.6 percent in guest nights for international visitors. International guest night numbers fell mainly in the South Island, particularly in Otago. However, there was also a large fall in Northland. A moderate rise in domestic guest nights (up 1.4 percent) partly offset the drop in international guest nights.
The national trend for guest nights has been steadily declining since the July 2011 high-point, but several more months of data are needed before this can be confirmed.
International guest nights fall in both main islands
International visitors spent 1.3 million guest nights in New Zealand in March 2012. This is down 3.6 percent from March 2011. The South Island (down 4.4 percent) accounted for three-fifths of the national decrease, while the North Island (down 2.8 percent) accounted for the other two fifths.
International guest nights decreased in 8 of the country's 12 regions in March 2012.
The largest decreases were in:
- Northland, down 21,000 (25 percent)
- Otago, down 20,000 (8.0 percent)
- Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman, down 9,000 (9.1 percent).
The largest increases were in:
- Auckland, up 16,000 (5.9 percent)
- Canterbury, up 8,000 (5.0 percent).
International visitors accounted for 43 percent of total guest nights in March 2012, down from 44 percent in March 2011.
Earlier Easter boosts visitor arrivals in March
According to International Travel and Migration statistics, 239,900 short-term visitors arrived in New Zealand in March 2012, up 11 percent from March 2011. Earlier Easter and Australian school holidays contributed to the rise, as did a downturn in March 2011 visitor numbers following the 22 February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
While visitor numbers increased in March 2012, visitors stayed in New Zealand for a shorter time.
Domestic guest nights rise
Domestic visitors accounted for 1.8 million guest nights in March 2012, up 1.4 percent from March 2011. Domestic guest nights rose 2.2 percent in the North Island, but there was little change (down 0.2 percent) in the South Island.
Domestic guest nights increased in 6 of the 12 regions in March 2012.
The largest increases were in:
- Auckland, up 22,000 (7.1 percent)
- Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui, up 10,000 (7.5 percent)
- Canterbury, up 7,000 (3.2 percent).
The largest decreases were in:
- Bay of Plenty, down 11,000 (6.6 percent)
- West Coast, down 8,000 (13 percent).
South Island guest nights down
The South Island had 1.2 million guest nights in March 2012, down 2.3 percent from March 2011, and down 17 percent from March 2010.
Canterbury was the only South Island region where guest nights rose (up 15,000 or 3.9 percent) compared with March 2011. However, guest nights were down in March 2011 due to the devastating February earthquake in Christchurch. Guest night numbers in Canterbury, particularly international guest nights, remain at a reduced level following the loss of much hotel and backpacker accommodation capacity.
Hotel guest nights in Canterbury have plunged to half their pre-earthquake level.
Fewer guest nights were spent in the four other South Island regions, compared with March 2011. The largest decreases were in:
- Otago, down 14,000 (3.2 percent)
- Southland, down 13,000 (13 percent).
International guest nights fell in every South Island region except Canterbury. Domestic guest nights rose in Canterbury and Otago, but were offset by falls in the other South Island regions.
The trend for South Island guest nights has been falling for the last two years.
North Island guest nights flat
The North Island had 1.9 million guest nights in March 2012, up just 0.2 percent compared with March 2011.
Guest nights increased in three of the seven North Island regions, compared with March 2011. The largest changes were in:
- Auckland, up 38,000 (6.6 percent), mostly due to guests in hotels
- Bay of Plenty, down 18,000 (6.6 percent)
- Northland, down 17,000 (11 percent), due to international guest nights
- Wellington, down 13,000 (4.7 percent).
Domestic guest nights rose in four of the North Island regions. However, international guest nights fell in four, cancelling out most of the rise in domestic guest nights.
The trend for North Island guest nights shows a decline since the August 2011 series peak, but several more months of data are needed before this can be confirmed.
Fewer guest nights for most accommodation types
Guest nights in holiday parks, motels, and backpacker accommodation fell in March 2012, compared with March 2011. Hotels were the only accommodation type with increased guest nights.
Guest nights in March 2012, compared with March 2011:
- hotels were up 43,000 (4.4 percent)
- holiday parks were down 33,000 (5.6 percent)
- motels were down 22,000 (2.1 percent)
- backpacker accommodation was down 13,000 (2.7 percent).
Most of the increase in hotel guest nights occurred in Auckland. Much of the decrease in holiday park guest nights occurred in the Bay of Plenty.
The trend for holiday park guest nights has fallen 8.0 percent since the series peak of July 2011. However, the size of this movement may be revised when data for future months is received.
Nationally, hotels accounted for 34 percent of overall guest nights in March 2012, followed by motels (33 percent), holiday parks (18 percent), and backpacker accommodation (15 percent).
Accommodation capacity up slightly from reduced level
Total available capacity in short-term accommodation was 4.4 million stay unit nights in March 2012. This is up 0.3 percent from March 2011, but down 2.9 percent from March 2010.
Hotels were the only accommodation type where there was more available capacity (up 2.9 percent) in March 2012 than in March 2011. Increases in Auckland and Otago hotel capacity offset decreases from the other accommodation types:
- motels, down 1.1 percent
- holiday parks, down 0.2 percent
- backpacker accommodation, down 0.4 percent.
Although national accommodation capacity is up slightly from March 2011, there is still less capacity than before the Canterbury earthquakes. Many of Canterbury's large hotels are in Christchurch's central business district and were damaged or placed off-limits in 2010 and 2011.
Occupancy rate flat
These figures exclude holiday parks unless otherwise mentioned.
The occupancy rate in March 2012, compared with March 2011, was unchanged at 59 percent.
The regions with the highest occupancy rate were:
- Auckland (71 percent)
- Wellington (70 percent)
- Otago (60 percent).
The largest changes in occupancy rate for March 2012, compared with March 2011, were in:
- Southland, down 4.1 percentage points
- West Coast, down 4.0 percentage points
- Northland, down 4.0 percentage points.
Hotels had the highest occupancy rate (65 percent) in March 2012, followed by motels (60 percent), and backpacker accommodation (51 percent).
For more detailed data from the Accommodation Survey, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.