March spending up on last year (+poll)

By Teuila Fuatai, and Amy McGillivray

People spent $255 million in the Bay of Plenty in March - up 3.7 per cent on the same month last year.

Paymark electronic transaction network figures show more than $4 billion was racked up in electronic spending nationwide last month - up 3.1 per cent on the same month last year.

Nationally, accommodation spending in March was up 7 per cent compared to last year, which tourist operators are attributing to hot weather and the early Easter weekend.

Hostel and camping grounds also recorded an 18 per cent jump.

In the Western Bay, surf life saving competitions and perfect beach weather kept visitor numbers high during the month, a local holiday park says.

Mount Maunganui Beach Holiday Park manager Mark Hales said several nights during March were fully booked at the beachside park, including some of the Easter weekend nights.

Mr Hales said the early Easter weekend, which fell during April in the past four years, had been perfect for holidaymakers.

"The weather was the biggest factor.

"It followed on basically from January and February," he said.

Decor Gardenworld owner Ginny Clark said rain at the end of the month had helped bring more customers.

"It was steady towards the end, particularly with the bit of rain before Easter."

Ambassador Motor Inn owner Roger Barclay said he was up 14 per cent this March compared to last year.

Harbour City Motor Inn owner Pascale Harwood said the Jazz Festival had been a boost for her business.

Holiday Accommodation Parks Association of New Zealand chief executive Fergus Brown said holiday parks in Northland and Coromandel boasted capacity numbers during Easter. Areas such as Martinborough and Rotorua also did well.

While many regional areas enjoyed an Easter holidaymakers' spending splurge, New Zealand's main centres recorded a decline.

Paymark chief executive officer Simon Tong said the trend was consistent with many Kiwis heading to "smaller resort-based" towns for the long weekend.

In the five days ending Easter Monday, spending was down in Auckland/Northland (-14.8 per cent), Wellington (-16.7 per cent) and Canterbury (-8.6 per cent) compared to the same five-day period in March 2012, but spending was up $48 million compared with Easter in April 2012.


- Bay of Plenty Times

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