Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Visitors spending 6pc less

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A recent government report shows a 6 per cent drop in spending by international visitors since 2011, a trend mirrored by some Rotorua tourism operators.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's quarterly International Visitor Survey revealed a 6 per cent drop in spending by international visitors since 2011.

The Ministry's Tourism Research and Evaluation manager Peter Ellis says data for the year to December 2012 shows spending by international visitors is at its lowest since 2001.

"The drop in spending over the past year can be partly attributed to a 2 per cent drop in visitor numbers over the same period. The drop also reflects global economic conditions and the strong New Zealand dollar."

Mr Ellis said: "2011 was a relatively good year for international tourism because of the Rugby World Cup, which overall outweighed the other challenges of that year. We're now seeing a return to the decline in tourist spend that was occurring before the Cup."

Spending by visitors from the United Kingdom has decreased even faster than forecast.

"On the other hand, spend by Chinese visitors has increased by 42 per cent, exceeding our forecasts" Mr Ellis said.

Agrodome general manager Grant Kilby said years of forward planning and targeted marketing had helped the Agrodome to stay successful during the global tourism downturn.

"Our Asian business has actually increased with a lot of that due to proper forward planning with marketing managers focussed on China, Korea, Japan, South East Asia and the rest of the world."

He said this was done before the global financial crisis and had held the company in good stead.

"So it's not all doom and gloom, although we have seen a drop off in European and United Kingdom tourists," Mr Kilby said.

However, Polynesian Spa chief executive George White said the report was not really comparing apples with apples.

"The reduction in visitor numbers into New Zealand, as per the report, is due to the comparison with the previous year that included Rugby World Cup.

"Here at Polynesian Spa we have experienced about the same Patronage for the nine months ending December 31 compared to the same period the year before.

"Our mix of customers have changed with a slight downturn in the western long haul markets but an increase in the Asian markets.

"We have noticed with the continuing strong New Zealand dollar, people have been spending a little less on average."

Elite Adventures owner/operator Trent Neilson said he had noticed a marked drop off in international tourists, especially from the United Kingdom and Europe, as well as the United States.

He said it had been a struggle during the past few years but he was confident the market would turn around in the near future.

The Rotorua Museum also reported a 15 per cent drop in international visitors in the quarter ending December 31. In a recent report to district councillors museum staff said the downturn was caused by "the world economic situation".

However, admission revenue was up slightly on the previous year with $379,000 spent in the quarter ending December 31, up 2 per cent.

The International Visitor Survey is based on interviews of 5200 tourists per year departing from New Zealand airports.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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