January saw 3.8pc rise in guest nights

By Jordan Bond

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Kristin Dunne, Tourism Bay of Plenty head of marketing.
Kristin Dunne, Tourism Bay of Plenty head of marketing.

Packed out accommodation and higher tourism spend in the Bay in January has resulted in a "bumper" summer, according to a tourism spokesperson.

January had a 3.8 per cent rise year-on-year in guest nights and a 12.5 per cent increase in visitor spend in the region.

Tourism Bay of Plenty head of marketing Kristin Dunne, pictured, said January was a successful month despite the poor weather to start the year.

"There was a real buzz about the place, and certainly our accommodation providers were at maximum capacity, which is fantastic."

She said the modest gains in commercial guest nights don't tell the full story. The growing market for private accommodation, including Book a Bach and Airbnb, as well as domestic travellers staying with friends and family, would account for a larger increase in visitor numbers.

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Ms Dunne said the "consistent" growth in visitor spend told the full story.

However, she said more international brand hotels would benefit the region by providing more beds over the packed Christmas period.

Nationally, guest nights were at record levels.

January's 4.84 million guest nights was the strongest month in the 20-year history of the survey, and up 6.1 per cent on last January.

Record levels were also recorded for the North and South islands, domestic and international guest nights, and three of the four accommodation types.

International visitor arrivals are up 10.7 per cent, to 3.17 million for the year ending January 2016. Total arrivals from China increased 42.5 per cent for the year, with significant visitor growth also recorded from the US, UK, Germany, India and Brazil.

Tourism New Zealand's chief executive Kevin Bowler said the lower New Zealand dollar was playing its part in driving growth.

"With peak demand as strong as it is, our new focus is on building demand in New Zealand's off-peak periods and encouraging visitors to stay longer and travel to more regions."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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