City needs domestic visitors to come

Rotorua tourism operators hope domestic tourists will keep the industry afloat until an influx of visitors in February.

Rotorua District Council tourism committee chairman Tony Marks said the number of international tourists was "looking quite sad for the country as a whole".

"There's no apparent growth expected over the next six months - with the significant exception of the Chinese market."

That was important for Rotorua as a "huge percentage" of inbound visitors were Chinese, he said.

"In excess of 70 per cent of all the Chinese coming into the country come to Rotorua."

The city was fortunate to have earned such a strong reputation in Asia, Mr Marks said. However, the tourism committee hoped it could do well in the domestic market, which would sustain the industry until the season's summer peak in February, Mr Marks said.

"February is jam-solid. We have a major bike festival coming through and a whole series of other events.

Talking to the accommodation sector, things are going to be very tight in February, which is excellent."

Destination Rotorua marketing manager Oscar Nathan said tourism contributed $435 million to the local economy and employed "more or less" one in four locals.

The results of AA Tourism's 101 Must-Dos for Kiwis list were released over the weekend, ranking the country's top attractions.

Rotorua featured four times - the Polynesian Spa on Hinemoa St came in at an impressive second place, the Rotorua Canopy Tours on Old Taupo Road at 21, the luge at 31 and Zorb at 75.

Mr Marks said it was good to hear the travelling public rated the region's attractions so highly.

The Bay of Plenty region's accommodation occupancy rate (excluding holiday parks) was 40.9 per cent in September, according to Statistics New Zealand.

The highest occupancy rate in the past year in Bay of Plenty was in January, at 58.4 per cent.

The highest rating region in the past year was tied between Auckland and Wellington at 71.4 per cent, in March and February respectively.

New Zealand Tourism Industry Association chief executive Martin Snedden said domestic tourism accounted for $38 million in economic activity daily and added $13.8 billion a year to the nation's tourism industry.

"This is spending that is not being taken offshore and is helping support jobs in smaller centres like Te Anau, Paihia and Greytown where employment opportunities are limited.

"Holidays at home help support local businesses and bring vibrancy to communities.

'It's not only tourism businesses that benefit but supermarkets, petrol stations, bars, restaurants, other retailers and a wide variety of business services that support all these businesses."

Tourism New Zealand is forecasting the releases of The Hobbit movie trilogy will provide an even greater boost to the country's image as a travel destination than The Lord of the Rings movies did.

The 100 per cent Middle-earth, 100 per cent Pure New Zealand campaign promoted the fantasy of The Hobbit movies as a reality in the form of a New Zealand holiday.

Six per cent of international visitors (120,000 to 150,000 people) cited The Rings movies as one of the main reasons for visiting New Zealand in the 2004 International Visitor Survey.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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