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City-goers are here, but no Aussies yet

Visitors from main centres have been keeping Wairarapa tourism operators afloat. PHOTO/FILE

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There’s been little sign of a transtasman bubble boom for Wairarapa tourism yet, but city visitors have been keeping local operators afloat.

Data obtained from Infometrics showed a 23 per cent jump in domestic tourism spending in the three months to March, compared with the same period last year.

Destination Wairarapa general manager Anna Nielsen said there was no accommodation left in the region for the upcoming Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

“There’s no room at the inn at the moment, and it’s fantastic, but it’s such a shame we can’t accommodate everybody who wants to come here,” she said.

“We are absolutely noticing it on the ground. As soon as lockdown finished, we welcomed visitors back to the region with large numbers, and they haven’t gone away.

“There is a trend towards people wanting to go for weekend breaks that aren’t too far from home, and when you’ve got such a large population base surrounding the wonderful Wairarapa, we are blessed with people who can and want to visit our region.”

Despite the resurgence in domestic tourism in Wairarapa, Neilsen said few Aussies had been seen since the transtasman bubble opened.

“We’ve had a few people here visiting the wineries, but not many,” she said.

“Most of the visitors we’ve had from Australia tend to be friends and family, and it’s quite hard to measure those statistics.”

Green Jersey Explorer Tours managing director Stu Edwards said they had been kept busy with visitors from Auckland and Wellington dropping in regularly for a cycle.

“We’re really lucky in South Wairarapa that the majority of our visitors are domestic,” he said.

“Wellington has been a tremendous support for us, and we’ve seen a real lift in the number of people coming from Auckland that we’ve never seen before.

“We’ve seen a couple of Aussies but not many yet but didn’t expect we would see them until later in the year.

“I think we’ve got good reason to be really confident about the next year or two.”

General manager of Pukaha National Wildlife Centre Emily Court said their domestic visitor numbers were certainly looking healthy, but a few more Aussie travellers would help.

“We are currently tracking 20 per cent behind the same time last year, and that is because pre-covid-19, we were reliant on 40 per cent international visitor numbers,” Court said.

“While the domestic numbers have absolutely grown, they haven’t grown to replace what we previously had in terms of the international visitors and their spend.

“In regions like Wairarapa, we are lucky that we aren’t as dependent on international tourists as the likes of Rotorua and Queenstown, so I am supportive of support going into those centres and hopefully that it doesn’t impact us too much

“We’ve got different things to offer, and our brand is really strong.”

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