Napier accommodation providers are suffering from fewer coach tours, thanks to the burgeoning cruise-ship market.

In the 12 months to June 30, Napier experienced 21,609 fewer guest nights, while Hastings enjoyed an increase of 4449, according to Statistics New Zealand figures.

Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said it was a nationwide problem.

"The cruise market has changed the dynamic of the coach tour market in New Zealand. We have seen less structured coach traffic through Hawke's Bay," she said.


"It is the result of more passengers jumping on very cheap cruises, particularly out of the Australian market."

This coming season up to 96,010 passengers  and 43,244 crew will visit Napier.

Gavin Smith, chief executive of Royal Caribbean Cruises in Australia and New Zealand, has attributed the growth to strong economic growth in Australia and the appeal of New Zealand's coastal scenery and the welcome mat put out by ports.

While in Hawke's Bay this week for the Hawke's Bay Tourism Industry Awards, Martin Sneddon, chief executive of the Tourism Association of New Zealand, said accommodation providers were suffering both from the cruise market and the economic recession.

He said Napier accommodation providers had to accept the situation.

"You don't have any right to future success because of past success," he said.

"Do you watch a movie now on a VHS recorder? Life moves on. You have to adapt your business.

"I'm not being disrespectful to bus and coach but the reality is you have to adjust to what is in front of you now and what is in front of you in the future. There is no guarantee that what worked in the past has a successful future. You have to embrace what is going to work in the future.


"I know that bus and coach is suffering. They should ask themselves the question: Is there anything we can do to turn the industry around to what it was a few years ago? I suspect the answer is no."

Deco City Motor Lodge owner Clinton Green said cruise ships were not the only reason for the fall in coach-tour business.

"Kirra Tours bypass Hawke's Bay and sleep the people in Masterton," he said.

"Operators want their rooms dirt cheap, $40 to $50, which is not realistic.

Mr Green said Kiwi Experience no longer stopped in Hawke's Bay.

This year's cruise season starts November 14 with the arrival of the Sea Princess.

The strong growth in cruise-passenger numbers is a boon for Napier CBD retailers and tourist operators that can offer a half-day experience.

"It is a bloody good business to be in. If you get it right it's perfect," Mr Snedden said.