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Holiday bookings rise

Ngawi is a popular Wairarapa tourist destination. PHOTO/SUE TEODORO

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School holiday bookings to Wairarapa are significantly higher than the same time last year as people choose breaks closer to home.

New figures from online accommodation provider Bachcare show Wellington and Wairarapa bookings are 28 per cent up for the period.

General manager of Bachcare Matthew Clews said covid had caused a change in destination choices.

“What this data is telling us is that Kiwis are eager for a break, but at the same time, they want somewhere close to home or driving distance in case alert levels change.

“We know that after every level 3 or 4 lockdown, there is a spike in demand for travellers wanting to escape from home and this trend continues to be strong.”

He said Wairarapa was a popular destination because of its scenic coastlines, vineyards, food and outdoor options like hiking and cycling.

The data showed regional accommodation providers were set to benefit as domestic travellers outside Auckland holidayed closer to home due to uncertainty about lockdowns.

People in places at level 2 have made travel plans with bookings from Wellington and Christchurch residents up about 12 per cent on last year.

Owner of Greytown’s White Swan Hotel, Nick Rogers, said they had strong bookings for the next two months.“For the school holidays, we are seeing lots of midweek bookings.

It’s unusual because even though it’s the school holidays, it’s not just families.”

Rogers said couples booking rooms at the White Swan might indicate people wanting to holiday with a broader family group had difficulty finding other suitable accommodation options nearby, with many bigger places booked.

“It shows the whole market is buoyant,” he said.

Rogers said although people were booking with confidence, every booking had a cancellation clause.

“A lot are doing short trips. People are preferring to travel two hours or so from home.”

Destination Wairarapa marketing manager Barbara Hyde said uncertainty about covid alert levels could mean many were reluctant to commit to flying these school holidays if they could avoid it.

“Wairarapa being such a good drive destination [helped by our proximity to Wellington] is a really attractive proposition for families hoping to have a short break. Once they get here, there is so much for them to see and experience,” she said.

Bookings in Rotorua and Marlborough are up 33 per cent and Hawke’s Bay 17 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, bookings from Aucklanders are down by 51 per cent for the holidays, with popular destination choice Queenstown down 35 per cent over the same period.

Other regions impacted by reduced demand from Auckland included Coromandel and Northland.

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