Whanganui motels and hotels are either very close to being booked out or fully booked despite the cancellation of many key events on Wellington Anniversary weekend.
Events across the country have dropped off over the past few months due to Covid-19 concerns and the systems in place needed to run large scale events.
In November Whanganui Vintage Weekend pulled the plug on their event, normally held on Wellington Anniversary weekend, due to the uncertainty of the Covid-19 environment.
The Billy Webb Challenge was the next anniversary weekend event to pull out, deciding in December to cancel the annual rowing challenge.
Wellington Anniversary weekend has historically been one of Whanganui's strongest weekends in terms of bringing in out-of-towners and tourists.
Motel owners were admittedly worried about occupancy over the long weekend with flagship events being cancelled.
But many are quietly surprised with how busy they are over the weekend despite Vintage Weekend not being on.
The Grand Hotel manager Jeremy Rodgers said the cancellation of Vintage Weekend had certainly had an impact.
"We were fully booked this weekend until it got cancelled. Now I'm all but empty on Sunday and got about five or six rooms for Saturday and seven or so for Friday. It definitely has had an effect.
"But it is better than what I was expecting."
Rodgers said there was little moteliers could do during these Covid-19 times and cancelled events were "just another slap on the face for the hospitality sector".
"We were expecting we might only be half-full, so we have a few more than we were expecting which is nice."
Kings Court Motel owner Paul Evans said they were full on Friday and Saturday and had a few free rooms on Sunday.
He said he was definitely concerned about occupancy after the cancellation of Vintage Weekend, but was pleasantly surprised with the bookings.
"There were certainly a few cancellations as a result of that. Some people who were coming for Vintage Weekend decided they would still come to Whanganui which is obviously good from our point of view.
"Gradually things have filled up again over the last few weeks and people are coming for different reasons."
He said January in general had not been as busy as in previous years, putting that down to people concerned about Covid-19 and all the talk about Omicron.
151 on London owner Rolla Tu said they were fully booked for Friday and Saturday.
She said it had been challenging to manage staff and cleaners over the past few weeks, finding they were either very busy and understaffed, or quiet and overstaffed.
She said bookings had tended to come in quite late as people worried about events being cancelled or being stuck somewhere if Covid-19 spread in the community.
"It is so hard to manage."
Aotea Motor Lodge, Gateway Motor Lodge and BK's Magnolia Motor Lodge all reported they were fully booked on Friday and Saturday.
All motel operators spoken to by the Chronicle said they had been fully booked for Sunday too, but when Vintage Weekend was pulled, most bookings cancelled.
Whanganui & Partners acting chief executive Jonathan Sykes said Whanganui's economy had continued to show its resilience through the Christmas period with consistently strong consumer spend figures to support that.
He said it had been tough on hospitality and accommodation businesses over summer.
"It has been a difficult climate for event organisers and a huge thumbs-up must go to those that have taken on the challenge and pushed through.
"There is demand out there from consumers and we're delighted to hear from accommodation providers that things look good for them over the anniversary weekend.
"Visitors play a huge part in supporting our business community, so we're looking forward to welcoming them throughout the summer."
Anniversary weekend events
The Whanganui River Markets will be in full swing on Saturday morning, with both the Farmers Market and the River Traders section all set and ready to go.
Air Chathams is bringing its 1945 Douglas DC-3 to town and offering scenic flights over the three days of anniversary weekend.
Chief operating officer Duane Emeny said the onboard use of electronic devices had been approved for the flights.
"That should make it fun for people who want to shoot photos and videos to record their experience.
"All we need now are great weather conditions."
The DC-3 was purchased and restored by Air Chathams chief executive Craig Emeny in 2009.
It was first flown under command of the Royal New Zealand Air Force before it became a passenger commuter for NZ National Airways Corporation (NAC) in 1953.
The Wanganui Vintage Car Club has a club event on Sunday at its Patapu St clubrooms.
Club Captain Frank James said while it was disappointing Vintage Weekend was scrapped, being able to hold a smaller event to celebrate the long weekend was a good consolation.
James said the plan was to meet at the clubrooms and then do a drive around Whanganui, going through the city, suburbs and some nearby country roads.
He said they usually had around 30 vehicles for a club meet, but were expecting some out-of-town visitors to join the festivities.
"After the ride we will come back here and have a bit of a get-together and an afternoon tea.
"What our club is about is getting together and getting out and about in our vehicles. We try to do something every six weeks or so. But it is good to have something a wee bit special for the long weekend."
James said the event required attendees to have and use vaccine passes.
Drum and bass/house music festival 3 Days Deep is in full swing, with two nights under its belt.
Organiser Lez Kiriona was stoked with how it was going so far and expected Saturday night to be a big one.
"Word gets around quickly. The crew are certainly feeling it this morning, but we will get up again tonight."
He said ticket sales had been very promising, with most attendees buying full passes for the three-day event.
The line-up for Saturday's final night features hometown legends Machete Clan and Mungbeanz as well as Alix Perez, Lee Mvtthews and Two Fold.
The paddlesteamer Waimarie is running daily cruises at 11am across the entire long weekend, as well as two jazz cruises in the evening.
Riverboat Centre manager Phil Pollero said the jazz cruises were always popular, with
Friday night's sold out and Saturday's close to fully booked.
The final concert of Whanganui Opera Week is happening on Saturday, with the New Zealand Opera School in town and ready to put on a show.
Presented by The Freemasons Foundation, Great Opera Moments still has a few tickets remaining. Tickets can be purchased from Opera House Box Office or online: https://RWOH.sales.ticketsearch.com/sales/salesevent/17759
There is also softball going at Whanganui Ball Park in Gonville, with the Mustang Cup up for grabs once again.
Start time is 9am on Saturday and Sunday, with the final set for 4pm on Sunday.