Motels eyeing bumper 2013

By Matthew Martin

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Rotorua moteliers are hopeful this year will see a big turn-around in their fortunes after recent years of woe and declining visitor numbers.

Malfroy Motor Lodge owner Ron Hunter said the number of visitors staying at his and wife Mairi's small motel had picked up significantly since Christmas.

"Generally people are saying that has been the case. The numbers here for the [Rugby] World Cup were disappointing.

"Although we did not have many 'Raggamuffiners' we were still full because we held a few rooms open for tourists.

"We had a lot of groups approaching us for [Te] Matatini but they were far too large for us to handle," he said.

The 2011 Rugby World Cup was touted as the saviour for the city's moteliers. However, this did not prove to be the case with many sporting tourists choosing to stay in backpacker accommodation or camper vans.

However, Mr Hunter said those moteliers who had put off maintenance or upgrade of their premises would still be struggling to attract customers.

"There are a group out there who have not been able to invest and who will find it tough to compete," Mr Hunter said.

Rotorua Association of Motels chairwoman Fiona Suurenbroek said members were hoping for a positive year.

"The vast majority of our members were full for [Raggamuffin] weekend, a number of them accommodating festival attendees, and on the whole the crowds were good.

"From all the calls we were getting the town's accommodation seems to have all been taken - on both Friday and Saturday nights," she said.

"We are all certainly hoping for a positive year, there are vibes from other business sectors that seem to be picking up, so we hope that this in turn reflects increased visitors to our city.

"You get the feeling that the country may be coming out of recession mode with positive signs in the housing market and building industries."

However, she said there was still concern around the strong New Zealand dollar with domestic visitors choosing offshore destinations.

"But having said that we remain hopeful of a recovery of some sort," she said.

Union Victoria Motel owner Bruce Beesley said after the disaster that was the Rugby World Cup moteliers were looking for positive signs.

"Personally I think it's picking up, we are definitely busy. Forward bookings for us have been ballistic, we are turning people away."

Mr Beesley said they had a lot of Australians for an education conference last week and there was a big golf tournament from February 24.

He said with Te Matatini and the new Rotorua Bike Festival also happening this month he was "pretty positive" about the rest of the year.

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Roger Gordon pointed to a recent Infometrics New Zealand report which stated Rotorua's productivity growth was well ahead of the national figure, increasing by 4.8 per cent in the last financial year, compared with 1.1 per cent for the whole of New Zealand.

In the past 10 years local productivity growth averaged 0.6 per cent, just behind the national average of 0.7 per cent.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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