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Tourism bosses optimistic for summer

Visitor numbers to Wairarapa were slightly down on last year during the June quarter, but tourism leaders are optimistic of a strong rebound going into summer.

A report tabled at the audit and risk committee of Masterton District Council [MDC] this week said the total guest nights recorded for the month of May 2023 was 17,200 – down from 18,000 in the same period in 2022. The average number of nights people stayed remained steady for the period at just under two.

Destination Wairarapa’s report to MDC for the period to the end of June captured accommodation data information from 33 registered accommodation providers in Wairarapa. The methodology did not include peer-to-peer providers like Airbnb and Bookabach.

The slight fall in numbers was attributed to weather events and the recently opened international border.

“[The reduction] is likely due to the wet weather conditions experienced this winter, particularly compared to the drier winters experienced by some of our neighbours,” the report said.

“Tourist numbers have also been impacted by the re-opening of the borders post-COVID. Wairarapa experienced significant growth in tourism numbers early in the pandemic compared to other regions, and this growth rate has now fallen.”

Tourism electronic card transactions for the region were $157.7 million for the year ending February 2023. This compared favourably to the $125.9 million for the same period in 2019 [before covid]. This methodology did not include non-card transactions, such as cash, meaning the overall reported figure is conservative.

A range of successful events in the early part of the year had attracted visitors, including the Balloon Festival, Tweed Ride in Greytown, Featherston’s Booktown, the Wairarapa Film Festival, and preparations for Greytown’s Festival of Christmas.

After the meeting, Destination Wairarapa general manager Anna Nielson said tourism in Wairarapa is in a good place heading into the warmer months.

“As spring brings very welcome drier, warmer weather, the region is well placed to attract visitors with a spring events lineup that is one of the strongest and most diverse ever,” she said.

Wings over Wairarapa, the region’s signature air show, will be returning after being displaced last year because of the weather.

“Toast Martinborough, which is further developed with ‘Beyond Toast’, will be dishing up additional new food and wine events across the entire weekend.”

Wellington’s Te Papa Tongarewa will be bringing its first touring exhibition to Masterton’s Aratoi, an exhibition of works by artist Rita Angus.

“For those seeking our excellent wine and food, having The Runholder, the new cellar door dining destination developed by Foley Wines in Martinborough, now open, plus other new hospitality businesses, means we have fresh and evolving appeal. Their investment demonstrates the confidence our industry has in the region as summer approaches.”

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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