Hawke's Bay had the second-greatest increase in visitors for New Zealand in February according to Statistics New Zealand's Commercial Accommodation Monitor.

Accommodation figure were up 9.4 per cent compared with February last year, an extra 11,000 guest nights.

Domestic visitor nights were up 14.9 per cent, totalling 89,215 guest nights.

Occupancy rates (excluding holiday parks) were up 7.6 per cent to 77.7 per cent per cent for the month.


Hawke's Bay hotels were up 19 per cent, motels were up 6 per cent and Holiday Parks 20.6 per cent. Backpackers declined 4 per cent.

Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said the recent summer season was up 10 per cent, the previous spring was up 16 per cent, winter was up 18 per cent and autumn last year up 5 per cent.

"It's particularly good to see that our seasonal approach to promoting Hawke's Bay is paying off," she said.

"Additional funding from the Hawke's Bay Regional Council and great tourism industry support ensures we are promoting the region year round."

When asked if seasonal RSE workers and the increased use of motels for the Government's social housing programme affected the numbers, she said long-stay workers should in theory not be included in the statistics.

"We can't actually get a list of who fills in the forms. It is one of those lovely confidential things that Statistics New Zealand don't see - which is a little annoying - but we have to work with what we have got."

"We also have the Private Household Monitor and we also have the Qrious cellphone data and everything is tracking ahead."

The Qrious data identified the nationality of visitors and was "a more accurate read on actual traffic".

"All indications are that visitor growth and spend etc are performing very well. I wouldn't put that down to RSE workers and social housing."

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment latest Regional Tourism Estimate said to the end of February visitor spend was up 7 per cent. For the month of February visitor spend was up 10 per cent compared with the same month last year.