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Holiday bargains at your feet

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So what are you planning to do in your holidays this year? Keep working? Stay at home and get depressed about the economic situation? Or get out and enjoy yourself as usual? Thought so.

A survey by hotel website has found that 70 per cent of Kiwis intend holidaying as normal and have no intention of curbing their plans because of the tightening economy.

That makes us rather more positive than our transtasman neighbours because the same survey found only 60 per cent of Aussies expected to stick to their normal holiday arrangements.

Of course it is clear that slightly fewer people have been taking holidays overseas ... but as panic about the recession dies down that is starting to get back to normal.

At the start of the year the number of Kiwis heading overseas for a holiday was down 5-6 per cent. But by April - the latest month for which Statistics NZ figures are available - numbers were down only 1.2 per cent.

As you'd expect, given all the negative publicity about the military takeover, the number of holidaymakers heading for Fiji is well down (21 per cent less than in April 2008). But surprisingly - to me anyway - the other big losers in the Pacific have been New Caledonia (down 35 per cent) and Tonga (down 29 per cent).

Why is that?

Further afield, there has also been a drop in numbers going to places like France and Italy, Japan and Malaysia (all 30-40 per cent down on the previous April). I guess that's because it's getting more expensive to go far afield.

So where are we going? The number of Kiwis holidaying in Samoa has jumped sharply (up by 34 per cent this April compared with 2008) while the Cook Islands (up 7 per cent) has had a solid increase.

The number of people going to our biggest market, Australia, only fell by 3 per cent, presumably helped by the incredibly cheap transtasman airfares and deals on hotels in places like Sydney and Melbourne.

But the Wotif survey found that - as you might expect - a lot of Kiwis are planning to take shorter, more frequent breaks this year, which probably means more holidays in New Zealand.

The good news from the consumer point of view is that the number of overseas tourists arriving here is also down and that has led to a lot of good deals on the local scene as well.

According to rival hotel website, at the start of the year hotel prices had already fallen by 35 per cent in Queenstown and 19 per cent in Christchurch.

And the Otago Daily Times reported last month that a price war had broken out among Queenstown accommodation operators as hotels and motels compete to fill their rooms.

All of which confirms that there's no need to miss out on a good holiday just because the financial world's gone mad.

- Jim Eagles

Pictured above: There are deals to be snaffled up in Queenstown. Photo / Jim Eagles

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