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Tourism boom strikes


Wairarapa’s winter visitor numbers peak at 15,000

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Wairarapa visitor numbers peaked at more than 15,000 people on one day of the school holidays, data from Tourism New Zealand and Data Ventures shows.

The year-on-year domestic visitor figures showed Wairarapa performed well as a region – the best in the North Island.

Compared with the winter holidays in 2019, the region showed a 38 per cent increase in domestic visitor numbers, which was followed by Ruapehu, with a 29 per cent increase.

While all regions experienced a growth in tourism during this period, Auckland had the smallest increase with only six per cent.

However, this was only half the story.

As Highwayman Motel owner Mark Wellington made clear in a Times-Age article earlier last week, the school holidays could be a red herring: people had cash to spend on a holiday, time booked off, and no flights were running, so it was natural that there would have been a spike.

“They had the money and the time off work, but nowhere to go,” the business owner said.

“We had more families with children for multiple days – historically, Masterton hasn’t really been the destination for school holidays.”

The real indicator for Wairarapa’s tourism situation was the month-on-month growth, even the weekend-on-weekend growth.

That, too, was shown to be improving, with the weekend spike increasing consistently since the weekend of June 20 and 21.

The largest spike of late was the winter school holiday weekend of July 11 and 12.

The weekend showed less visitor traffic than the spike, but still represented an increase on the other weekends before the winter school holidays.

The other large jump post-lockdown was the May 30 and 31 weekend, supplemented by the Queen’s Birthday on Monday – when a covid-worn nation flocked to domestic holiday hotspots.

Wellington city was also shown to have done well in terms of weekend visitor consistency, but the figures for the year-on-year increases for the winter school holidays in 2019, showed a 10.7 per cent increase, which was one of the lowest.

This could signal two things: that Kiwis preferred to travel to the countryside over the city, and, simultaneously, that those doing the spending and the travelling were more likely to be from the cities – looking to swap the urban sprawl for rural idyll.

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