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New Zealand hotels leading the sector’s global recovery

New Zealand’s hotel sector appears to be recovering faster than anywhere else in the world, according to a new snapshot of global hotel bookings.

The World Hotel Index, compiled by hotel tech company SiteMinder, shows that on May 31, 2020, New Zealand daily hotel booking volumes reached 57.0 per cent of bookings compared to the same date in 2019.

This is more than double the global average of 28.0 per cent.

The figures also show New Zealand had the world’s fastest rate of growth in hotel bookings in the week to Wednesday, May 27.

Dean Humphries, national director of hotels at Colliers International, says the figures show New Zealand’s tourism sector has entered a phase of domestic-led recovery.

"Hotel bookings have been growing steadily since New Zealand moved to Alert Level 2 on May 14, with the latest figures showing a surge of bookings in the lead-up to Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

"Booking volumes were at 57.8 per cent of 2019 levels as of Friday, compared with 45.3 per cent a week prior and a 31.4 per cent a fortnight earlier.

"What’s particularly pleasing is that New Zealanders also seem to be planning more domestic holidays for the future.

"Booking volumes on Saturday and Sunday – when the long holiday weekend was already in full swing – were among the highest since COVID-19 restrictions came into place in March."

The SiteMinder figures show hotel booking volumes plunged as the COVID-19 restrictions wore on.

Volumes fell to 55.0 per cent of 2019 levels on March 20, when the New Zealand government closed the country’s borders to non-residents. They then dropped to 29.0 per cent on March 25, when Level 4 lockdown restrictions came into place.

The lowest point was on April 10, when booking volumes were just 4.0 per cent of 2019 levels.

Dean says the strong growth in bookings in recent weeks, backs up earlier predictions for a domestic-led recovery.

"Before COVID-19, domestic guests accounted for more than 50 per cent of hotel room night demand throughout the country with the exception of Queenstown at 34 per cent.

"We expect the current domestic-led recovery to be followed by demand from a possible trans-Tasman and Pacific bubble, which may be established as soon as the third or fourth quarter of this year.

"This is likely to be followed by a period of bilateral travel agreements, primarily focused on the South East Asian seaboard including Hong Kong, South Korea, China and Taiwan if these countries showcase that they have contained the virus to manageable levels."

Dean says New Zealand has a unique opportunity to be an ideal ‘early adopter’ for many tourism-focused initiatives and become a benchmark, and possibly market leader, in the road to recovery for the global tourism sector.

"Recovery will be gradual but is likely to gain momentum from 2021. Another factor in New Zealand’s favour is the early hosting of global sporting and cultural events such as the America’s Cup and APEC, which are both still scheduled for 2021."

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