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Guest nights star in Mackenzie district

Relative to the size of its resident population, Mackenzie district had the most guests staying in hotels, motels, backpackers and holiday parks per resident of any area in New Zealand in the September 2019 year, Stats NZ has released.

The sparsely populated Mackenzie district includes the tourist hotspots of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo, lying approximately halfway between Christchurch and Queenstown.

"With 891,000 guest nights in the September 2019 year, Mackenzie district had 173 guest nights for each of the estimated 5,140 residents," accommodation statistics manager Melissa McKenzie says.

"This is even higher than other visitor hot spots, such as Queenstown-Lakes district with 111 guest nights per local a year and Rotorua district with 31 guest nights per resident."

"Mackenzie district guest nights grew the second-fastest of any territorial authority in New Zealand over the last 22 years. Annual guest nights in the September 2019 year were three-and-a-half times the number in the year ended June 1997," says Melissa.

Over the 22 years that the accommodation survey has been running, Hauraki district in Waikato region grew fastest, to 131,000 guest nights, over four times the number in the June 1997 year.

Between 1996 and 2019, New Zealand’s population grew from 3.7 million to nearly 5 million; at the same time the number of visitor arrivals to New Zealand more than doubled, from 1.5 million to 3.9 million.

"The growth in Kiwis taking holidays has not only been driven by population growth, but an extra week’s annual leave starting in 2007 helped boost the number of domestic guest nights over the life of the survey. Tourist attractions like the 2011 Rugby World Cup and the interest in the scenery shown in The Lord of the Rings movies have contributed to more international guest nights," Melissa says.

More domestic and international guests drove two milestones over the life of the accommodation survey. When the survey began in the year ended June 1997, almost 22 million guest nights were spent in short-term commercial accommodation. The number of guest nights reached 30 million in the year ended July 2004, then grew to reach 40 million in the September 2018 year.

The increase in nights spent in short-term commercial accommodation has been supported by a 15 percent increase in accommodation establishments during the length of the survey, with just over 3,000 providers surveyed in the September 2019 year.

The greatest growth in accommodation establishments over the same period was in motels and backpackers, while hotels had the highest occupancy rate of all the short-term commercial accommodation providers.

The annual occupancy rate for hotels has eased by about 1.5 percentage points since the March 2018 year, even though guest nights have been generally rising. This is due to new and refurbished hotels in Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington. These have brought national capacity back to early 2011 levels, before the Canterbury earthquakes removed a lot of hotel stock from Christchurch city.

This is the final release of accommodation survey information by Stats NZ with results for the September 2019 month. This decision was first announced in June 2019.

"We would like to thank hotel, motel, backpacker, and holiday park operators for the time and effort they put into completing the survey for many years, for the benefit of the tourism sector and all New Zealanders," says Melissa.

Stats NZ continues to support the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in procuring a new provider to produce accommodation industry insights. For updates on the procurement process subscribe to MBIE’s tourism sector alerts.

In the meantime, Stats NZ and MBIE will continue to provide a range of statistics that inform the accommodation and tourism industries. These include:

International Visitor Survey (IVS) – quarterly report on spending by overseas visitors to New Zealand.

Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates (MRTEs), estimate of regional monthly expenditure on tourism from both international and domestic consumers.

Retail trade survey – accommodation sales series which provides quarterly data on the accommodation sector’s actual and seasonally-adjusted sales volumes.

New Zealand business demography statistics – provides an annual snapshot of the characteristics of businesses, including the numbers of accommodation and food services businesses and how many people they employ.

Labour market statistics – quarterly employment survey provides data on full time employees in the accommodation and food services sector.

Linked employer-employee data – provides more detailed accommodation employment data based on tax records.

International travel statistics – provides monthly estimates of arrivals and departures of overseas visitors and New Zealand residents.

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