Tourist spend has exceeded 2019 levels on the West Coast, thanks to returning visitors from Australia and the US.
For the month of October international visitor spend returned to 69 per cent of pre-pandemic levels to $4.1 million, according to MarketView.
With help of strong domestic demand, this tipped the total visitor spend above $14 million for the first time since 2019.
Although there has been a slight dip in domestic tourism since mid pandemic, monthly New Zealanders visiting the West Coast were up 40 per cent on 2019 levels.
Development West Coast say this ongoing support has helped the region through a tough pandemic period, with many Kiwis having never visited before.
Research carried out by the tourism board found that one third of domestic visitors were on their first trip to the Coast and around 92 per cent wanted to come back again.
“Kiwis have supported the Coast during Covid and as the borders reopen, we want them to think of the Coast as their own backyard,” said destination and tourism manager, Patrick Dault.
While there were plenty of Kiwis visiting for the first time the Coast is well and truly re-opened to international tourism.
Australians were leading the charge as the largest group, with 38 per cent of tourism spend, followed by the USA 17 per cent and the UK at 13 per cent.
This has been great news for the hard-hit tourism business. After two years of closures and businesses going into administration, the Coast is celebrating its first new attractions.
Apolline Faye brought her desert truck ‘Crêpe and Snow’ to the bottom of Glacier country and Haast, just in time for summer.
“I decided to open a food caravan to bring something new to the West Coast, something different for the locals and tourists,” she said from her mobile desert wagon at the most westerly point of SH6.
Meanwhile Hokitika has opened Delighted Ice Cream and Dessert Parlour and by Christmas will be welcoming the first guests onto the new zipline through the West Coast Treetop Walkway.