New Zealanders stayed at home during the Rugby World Cup and the surge of international visitors staying in commercial accommodation did not make up for the lack of domestic travellers.
Official figures show guest nights fell 1.5% during the tournament, in October, compared with a year earlier.
International guest nights jumped 7.1%, but domestic guest nights fell 6.5%.
UBS Investment Bank senior economist Robin Clements says the Cup would also have put off some international business travellers.
He expects the debt crises in Europe and the United States to further dent tourism to New Zealand.
Canterbury continued to show the largest regional fall in guest nights, offsetting the combined rises for Auckland, Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman and Wellington.
The figures do not include any visitors staying on cruise ships, in private dwellings or in temporary caravan sites set up to host Rugby World Cup visitors.
Guest nights have been increasingly slowing since a low point in February, but the rate of improvement slowed last month.