Northland's buoyant tourism market continues to grow with news guest nights rose a staggering 23.3 per cent- the second highest in the country- in July.
According to the Commercial Accommodation Monitor for July by Statistics New Zealand, the 23.3 per cent increase amounted to 92,370 visitors or 17,428 more than in July last year which also pushed the average length of stay from 2.04 nights to 2.18 nights.
Although the percentage increase in guest nights was higher for international than domestic guests, the number of visitors in the latter category was more.
International guest nights recorded a 28.6 per cent increase or 25,524 guests while the domestic number was 21.3 per cent but involved 66,847 visitors.
Northland Inc regional promotions and tourism manager Paul Davis said the year end data was far more telling than monthly statistics.
"It' [July numbers] is a good increase. Northland, especially the Far North, continue to see the benefit of ongoing visitor growth and that's reflected in the Northland stats.
"Figures for one month is just a snap shot and the numbers for Whangarei in July reflects more of business travel than leisure travel."
Northland tourism leader and Dive! Tutukaka owner Jeroen Jongejans said the region benefited in a small way from an increase in visitor arrivals into the country.
"The figures for July are very encouraging and it's worth noting that Tourism New Zealand is solely focusing on marketing New Zealand in the off season because seasonality is always a problem especially for Northland where we're always busy in summer but we don't do well in the other months," he said.
As a sign of confidence in Northland's tourism industry a training college for the sector - QRC Tai Tokerau Resort College - opened in Paihia in April and had 35 students, many of whom had already been offered jobs before they graduated.
Statistics NZ said it was hard to pinpoint the reasons for an increase in visitor numbers in Northland but said it had to do with a 14 per cent hike in international visitor arrivals in the country in July.
Most of the international visitors arrived into Auckland and neighbouring regions such as Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty also recorded increases, the government agency said.
Only Auckland topped Northland with an increase in the number of guest nights of 44,254 in July - from 521,080 to 565,334- but the increase of 8.5 per cent was lower than Northland.
Domestic guest nights in July in Northland were 66,847 compared with 55,102 for the same month last year while international visitors spent 25,524 guest nights compared with 19,840.
For the year ended July 2016 compared with the same month last year, guest nights rose 4.2 per cent although the average length of stay dropped slightly.
Motels and apartments in Northland continued to be the preferred accommodation type for all visitors.