The Wairarapa Region is looking towards a busy Christmas period and summer ahead, after fairing better than most throughout the financial hardship of Covid.
Destination Wairarapa marketing manager Barbara Hyde said the region's tourism industry had recorded a positive result in 2020, in spite of the challenges faced by tourism throughout the pandemic.
Much of this was due to the support of tourism from the capital, she said.
"The MB [Ministry of Business and Innovation] results that came out this week show that we have been the only region in NZ to have experienced positive growth this year – we've had growth of 6 per cent," she said.
"We've had an extraordinary year in terms of numbers and accommodation, everyone's busy, the wineries are booming.
"It's come out of Wellington and it's been consistent."
A MBIE spokesperson confirmed Destination Wairarapa experienced 6 per cent year-on-year growth from total tourism spend, the most of any regional tourism organisation (RTO).
"Wairarapa has a relatively smaller proportion of spend from international visitors than many other RTOs, meaning they were less adversely affected by the loss of international visitors than other RTOs," they said
Hyde said the region had been helped by its strong base of domestic tourism.
"That's another reason we've had this growth, because we were not exposed to the high percentage of international market – so that's really helped."
The Wairarapa had been visited by a loyal base of Wellingtonians since lockdown lifted, but were now being joined by people from all over the country.
"Bookings are looking great for Christmas, we're really looking forward to people coming and making the most of some settled weather and exploring the region – which is compact but diverse."
"We'll be getting a mix from around New Zealand but we're certainly enjoying really high visitation from our wonderful Wellington neighbours," she said
"But we're also seeing people who we think are venturing around bits of New Zealand that they maybe have heard of but haven't been."
Tourists would typically check out the wineries along the State Highway 2 wine trail, or head to the usual beach spots.
"Lots of Wellingtonians have homes in Riversdale and Castle point, and suddenly you're at the beach and Covid seems a long way away," she said.
"2020 just starts receding if you can sit at a nice beach in Castle Point with your family."
The region would also host its annual new year event, The races at Tauherenikau on January 2 and were expecting a big crowd.
"If it's a nice day we'll get maybe 20,000 people under those beautiful trees, it's absolutely stunning," she said.
"People love the fact that they can come and do that for the day from Wellington ... it's really family friendly, it's affordable, it's close to Wellington."