Rise in guest nights a boon for Bay

By Sonya Bateson

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Head of marketing Kristin Dunne and general manager Rhys Arrowsmith. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
Head of marketing Kristin Dunne and general manager Rhys Arrowsmith. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

A strong summer and more money to market the region are behind a 10 per cent rise in guest nights in the year to June.

This is the view of Tourism Bay of Plenty head of marketing Kristin Dunne after Statistics New Zealand's monthly accommodation survey shows more than one million guest nights had been spent in Bay of Plenty hotels, motels, backpacker accommodation, and holiday parks.

This is a 10.4 per cent increase from the previous 12 months, which had 993,831 nights.

Ms Dunne put the increase down to more money being available for marketing the region as a tourist destination.

The organisation had received extra money in the past year in compensation from the grounding of the Rena.

It also received a refund from the Crown after funding to Tourism Bay of Plenty was rediverted after the ship wrecked.

"This is the first year we've been able to do an above-the-line marketing campaign. We feel this has made a difference in terms of letting people know what we've got to offer in the Bay."

Other influences were last year's spectacular summer and the recovering economy.

"In December and January, the Bay of Plenty was the highest-growing region in those two months."

Ms Dunne said international guest nights were up about 26 per cent in the 12 months to June.

This was a reflection of all the marketing done in this area, something local people did not see, she said.

"Tourism is 10 per cent of our regional GDP and employs about 10 per cent of our population. It was worth $520 million to our region last year."

Papamoa Beach Top 10 Holiday Resort general manager Rebecca Crosby told the Bay of Plenty Times there had been increasing visitor numbers to the park in the year to June.

"We have also noticed an increase in the groups market as we have welcomed a lot of groups and sports teams to the resort as a result of some fantastic events that the Bay of Plenty is putting on."

Miss Crosby said the current financial year was also looking strong for visitor numbers and expected the new conference centre, due to open on Labour Weekend, would add to that by attracting more conferencing, weddings and groups to Papamoa.

Atlas Suites and Apartments manager Leith Milson said the first six months of this year had shown an increase of between 6 and 7 per cent compared to the same period last year.

"Accommodation is up, we certainly were until the end of last month."

Mr Milson said his guests were usually Auckland families which meant school holidays tended to be the busiest times. August would likely be quieter because of this.

He believed the location of the apartments was a big part of the reason for the increase as people were becoming more aware of its convenient location to both the beaches and restaurants in Mount Maunganui.

Tauranga Motel Association committee member Pauline Page said there had been an improvement in the summer period compared to the previous summer.

Bay of Plenty Accommodation data

(Year ending June 2014)

• Total guest nights: 1,096,821, up 10.4 per cent
• Average length of stay: 2.60 nights, up 9.1 per cent
• Occupancy rate: 32.96 per cent, up 13.3 per cent

- Statistics New Zealand

- Bay of Plenty Times

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