Thursday, June 2, 2011

Modest March for Motels

We see that Statistics New Zealand released the latest accommodation survey results for March 2011 a couple of days ago. 

Guest nights fell 5.4 percent in March 2011 compared with March 2010 and much like February, these results have been largely influenced by disjointed figures out of Canterbury. Once again the region returned significantly lower response rates from accommodation providers and capacity has been significantly reduced due to the earthquake on 22 February 2011. These stats should be viewed with caution. 

The North Island recorded a modest 1.9 percent increase in guest nights in March 2011 compared to March 2010 with the largest increases:
  • Auckland up 8.0 percent
  • Wellington up 4.4 percent. 
Interestingly this was the eighth consecutive month Auckland has achieved the largest guest night rise of any region and this was again largely due to domestic guest nights in hotels.

Not surprisingly, all South Island regions continue to take a hit with an overall 11 percent decrease in March 2011 compared to March 2010. Regions with the largest decreases were:
  • Canterbury down 30 percent
  • Otago down 3.1 percent.
Canterbury's dramatic decline has been due to loss of capacity and a drop in international guest nights since February's earthquake. The lower demand for Christchurch as a tourist gateway is having a ripple effect throughout the South Island.

Christchurch clearly has a perception problem with overseas tourists that are dropping the region from their itineraries. Another problem that will continue for some time is the accommodation roadblock caused by workers staying in commercial accommodation that are involved in Christchurch's painfully slow "5-day-a-week" reconstruction program.

International visitor guest nights across New Zealand in March 2011 decreased by 13 percent compared with Marc 2010. 

It was again good to see Kiwis are still out-and-about with domestic guest nights recording an increase of 1.7 percent in March 2011 compared with March 2010. 

The allocation of guest nights between the accommodation sectors is always interesting to follow and it is significant that March 2011 was the second month in a row when the hotel sector surprisingly didn't record a gain in guest nights after achieving increases in 14 consecutive months prior.

All four accommodation types had fewer guest nights in March 2011 than in March 2010:
  • Hotels, down 11 percent
  • Backpackers, down 8.2 percent
  • Holiday parks, down 1.4 percent
  • Motels, down 1 percent
After a stellar run, the hotel sector has had a dramatic fall from grace in March, while the motel sector managed to achieve a comparatively better result by only recording a modest decline.

Hotels had the highest occupancy rate (63 percent) in March 2011, followed by motels (60 percent), and backpacker accommodation (51 percent). 

As winter starts to bite, the challenge is to encourage Kiwis to travel domestically in the shoulder season before the Rugby World Cup. Hopefully there are plenty of events and the weather is kind over the Queen's Birthday weekend!

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