Northland could be in for a bumper summer season thanks to rising visitor numbers and hopes that new international flights into Auckland will open up fresh markets for Northland.
The main boost was expected from year-on-year growth, as Northland experienced 6.9 per cent growth in guest nights (to 1,744,880 nights) from June 2014 to end of June 2015, with an extra 112,622 nights recorded since the 2013/2014 year.
However, new flights into Auckland from a number of new destinations including Beijing, Buenos Aires and Houston, Texas, from December could mean some new visitor opportunities for Northland.
The general manager for regional promotions at Northland Inc, Paul Davis, said his agency and Northland tourism operators challenge now was to capture those markets and make sure visitors drove north after landing in Auckland.
"Next month, Karly Bent, our tourism specialist, will be taking off to China on a tourism sale mission to sell Northland to that market."
He said early projections were pointing at a positive third summer season for Northland, which officially ran from Labour Weekend to Easter with two peaks.
The domestic peak happened at Christmas and New Year, while the international floodgates opened in February and March.
Exchange rates also played a part, he said, with visitors set to get more bang for their buck when they go here.
"The exchange rates won't bring more people, but means visitors can get more for their currency, and spend it, when they're here.
"Quite simply, there are more people coming here, from wider markets, spending more.
"We have seen an increase in domestic travel too, which could be down to a rise in commercial activity in Whangarei...people are visiting for business," he said. Construction workers associated with the NZ Refining expansion contributed to a lift in more recent traffic and guest nights, as did national sporting events such as the recent hockey finals weeks. The national iSite convention was also an example of increasing domestic visitors.
He said Aucklanders with more cash to splash were also contributing, as people were selling up in the city and moving to Northland, enjoying some spending when they got here.
Meanwhile, the weather for this summer was set to be favourable for tourism.
MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths said El Nino would deliver a dry and cooler summer and autumn in the region, with springtime temperatures already tracking a half a degree behind their usual figures.
Gross domestic product (GDP) for the region was at $6,115 million, up 2.9 per cent from last year, according to the latest Infometrics Quarterly Economic Monitor for the region, which calculates the GDP based on a number of economic indicators.
The report noted that Northland's traffic flow, from additional commercial and tourism movement, had increased 4.1 per cent, guest nights jumped 6.9 per cent and retail trade saw a lift of 2.7 per cent.
All three economic indicators were linked to tourism had seen growth which was above the national average. NZ traffic flow had only increased by 3.1 per cent, guests nights 5.3 per cent and retail trade by 2.3 per cent.