22 Dec 2015

Summer set to be tourism record-breaker

11:25 am on 22 December 2015

This summer is set to be the biggest ever for the tourism industry and holidaymakers are being warned to book accommodation as soon as possible.

A woman walks with a suitcase through an airport.

Photo: 123RF

The latest International Travel and Migration figures, released yesterday, revealed a 9 percent increase in international visitors in the past year, with 3.09 million people visiting.

Those in the tourism sector said while it was great news, it put a strain on resources.

Tourism Industry Association chief executive Chris Roberts said Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown were all at 90 percent occupancy rates already.

"Without doubt this summer will be the busiest tourist season ever."

That meant people needed to think about booking accommodation in advance, he said.

"You will need to book ahead and maybe try a few places to get that room for the night... but it is still possible in every centre in New Zealand to make an accommodation booking, to have a great holiday."

This time of year it was largely New Zealanders filling the hotels, he said.

Investment needed

Mr Roberts said more money was needed over the next 10 years to provide the extra accommodation and improved services the industry needed.

"We need to get more hotels built, and other types of accommodation built.

"We need more attractions, we need more activities, we need to make sure our transport networks and our transport vehicles are available.

"And local services - water, sewerage, utilities in some of our smaller centres - if they're going to have more visitors coming - they need those services upgraded."

Queenstown at sunset

Queenstown Photo: 123RF

Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel assistant manager Fran Freire said the hotel was booked out almost entirely through to early March.

People still arrived without a reservation, looking for a place to stay.

"That puts more pressure on us because of the number of staff we have on... we try what we can to accommodate their needs."

The big hotels and backpackers in town were also busy, he said.

Ngai Tahu Tourism head Quinton Hall said he hoped the popularity would spread throughout the year.

"In the peak of our tourism year, New Zealand is pretty full."

Mr Hall said finding enough trained staff was becoming more difficult.

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