Thursday, January 22, 2009

Accommodation stats reflect tourism decline

The Southland Times
By Ben Heather
22 January 2009

There are more rooms in Queenstown Lakes but fewer people filling them, with accommodation arrivals plummeting 16.1 per cent in November.

Guest arrival numbers were down from 113,804 in November 2007 to 95,432 last November, reflecting a national 5 per cent decline.

Numbers were down from on the 2007 for every month since April last year, but capacity is up 5.2 per cent on last year.

Hotel Association's Queenstown representative Victoria Shaw, of Eichardts, said things were tough with hotels looking to staff levels to cut costs.

"Tourism New Zealand is talking 10 to 15 per cent (visitor arrival decline) but we're all realistically talking 15 to 20 per cent," she said.

"I'm sure everyone will be feeling it."

The increase in visitor accommodation during boom times 18 months ago had left some hotel managers in a tight spot, she said.

"It wasn't really a need, it was driven by developers and the real estate ... but when it gets tight the returns aren't there."

Many excess rooms were part of strata schemes where investors bought into individual hotel rooms, which were then managed for them for a return.

"You watch the real estate section of the paper. There are going to be a few mortgagee sales," Ms Shaw said.

Motel Association chief executive Michael Baines said motels had not been hit as hard as expected but tourist spots like Queenstown and Rotorua had been affected by a reduction in tour groups. Other areas such as Southland were holding up well, he said.

ROOM BY ROOM: Fewer people, more rooms Visitor numbers in November 2008 compared with the previous year: Queenstown Lakes Visitor arrivals: down 16.1 per cent Accommodation capacity: up 4.3 per cent Central Otago Visitor arrivals: down 1.2 per cent Accommodation capacity: up 1.4 per cent

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