Canterbury, Southland guest nights jump as international visitors drive growth

Canterbury and Southland guest nights jumped in December compared to the same month the previous year, fuelled by international visitor growth and the return to trend following 2016’s Kaikōura earthquake.

While overall guest nights across New Zealand increased 4% to 4.14 million, international guest nights in the South Island grew 8.3% from December 2016, according to Stats NZ’s latest accommodation survey.

In particular, healthy increases were noted in Canterbury, which rose 12.4% compared to December 2016 to 572,000, and Southland, up 13.2% to 138,000.

“In the South Island, international guest nights exceeded domestic guest nights in December, which has been common in recent years,” said Stats NZ’s accommodation statistics manager, Melissa McKenzie.

“In contrast, in the North Island New Zealanders using commercial accommodation dominate guest nights all year round.”

The 4% increase across New Zealand in December follows similar rises in October and November, said Stats NZ. December’s growth was also helped by a record month for international visitor arrivals.

Overseas visitor arrivals hit a record 513,300 for the month, up on the previous record of 494,200 recorded in December 2016. December is traditionally the peak travel month due to the Christmas and New Year holidays.

All four accommodation sectors saw increases in December:

  • hotels  – up 66,000 (5.3 percent) to 1,304,000
  • motels – up 10,000 (0.8 percent) to 1,166,000
  • backpackers – up 5,000 (1.0 percent) to 512,000
  • holiday parks – up 78,000 (7.2 percent) to 1,159,000

Hosted and private accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts and holiday homes, are excluded from the results.

In the year ended December 2017, over 39 million guest nights were spent in short-term commercial accommodation, 2.5% more than in the December 2016 year.

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