Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Guest nights fall despite RWC

With the Accommodation Guest Night Survey for October released this week, we can finally get a picture of the number of guest nights generated over the Rugby World Cup period. 

Changes with the school holidays, the continuing ripples from the Christchurch earthquake disaster and the Rugby World Cup have all had a major impact on overnight stays in commercial accommodation over September and October. 

While publicly talking-up the potential success of the RWC, well seasoned tourism industry folk have always known that it was going to be difficult to generate widespread economic benefits by hosting such a major event. While all positive media has been earnestly focused on the one-off flood of overseas visitors attracted to New Zealand for the RWC, the opportunity cost of public expenditure, diversion of resource and lost accommodation trade from traditional sources has been conveniently ignored.

While there have been pockets of positive activity within the different accommodation sectors throughout the country over September and October, the main winner appears to be Auckland hotels. The losers appear to be accommodation providers in the South Island that have been dragged down by the Christchurch earthquake recovery. 

While the Rugby World Cup boosted overseas visitors, domestic leisure travellers stayed at home preferring to watch match coverage with friends and family in their own living rooms.
Domestic business travellers tended to reduce travel to avoid perceived traffic snarl-ups and higher accommodation rates.

The net result was that overall guest nights rose just 0.3 percent in September and fell 1.5 percent in October.

The accommodation industry is made up of an eclectic group of enthusiastic folk that include quirky B&B owners, lifestyle holiday park owners, Ma & Pa moteliers and large corporations that operate hotels. They all have one thing in common - they all live on eternal optimism. Next year is always going to get better. Accommodation providers love what they do and will carry because they can. They will continue to invest money into an industry that they are intoxicated with. 

It will be interesting to gauge the much touted "long term benefits" the RWC may bring to Kiwi accommodation providers.

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