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Big boost from tourist numbers

In a welcome boost to the local economy, visitor numbers for February are well up on the same period last year.

Recent figures provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show visitor numbers for the month were almost 10 per cent higher than in February 2023.

Regional tourist organisation Destination Wairarapa confirmed the recent data shows guest nights were up 9.9 per cent in February compared to the same month last year.

While international visitor numbers were significantly up, domestic tourism increased as well.

Domestic guest nights rose 2.3 per cent, while international nights were up by 47.7 per cent.

The total number of guest nights in February was 28,800, compared with 26,200 in 2023.

Nick Rogers is the owner of the White Swan Hotel in Greytown. The distinctive building on the main street is a local landmark and a popular accommodation choice.

He said it had been a good summer for Wairarapa, especially compared with last year.

“There’s multiple reasons for it,” Rogers said.

“The weather has been a lot better, and 99 per cent of the events have been successful. We have to remember we are Wellington’s playground and events bring tourism.”

Rogers said the uptick in international tourism has been noticeable.

“New Zealand is seen as a safe destination,” he said, referring to the recent covid pandemic.

“Wairarapa has so much to offer for the outdoors, and international tourists are becoming more adventurous. They are seeking outdoor places more, and that is great for regions like Wairarapa.”

A strong, cohesive approach to attracting visitors is needed, Rogers said.

“Destination Wairarapa does a great job in that regard.

“Wairarapa has such a range of offerings. We are so fortunate.”

Rogers said tourism is an important sector in the region, with about 50 per cent of his hotel’s business coming from outside Wairarapa.

“The sector supports a wide range of local businesses,” he said.

Destination Wairarapa general manager Anna Neilson said the results reflect the region’s innovative ideas and effective partnerships, and the hard work of the organisation’s marketing team.

“Tourism has returned to being the second biggest export industry in New Zealand,” she said, adding that the sector’s contribution to the economy is critical, especially in tough economic times.

“Despite these tough conditions, achieving growth of 9.9 per cent illustrates how powerfully tourism contributes to Wairarapa’s economy.

“Destination Wairarapa is the only local organisation solely focused on growing tourism in the region. We’ve thrown our support and expertise behind our members this summer, and we’re thrilled with the resulting growth.”

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