New air services to boost tourism

jetstar_11 DecNew air services are expected to give New Zealand tourism a substantial lift this summer. Tourism Industry Association New Zealand chief executive Chris Roberts said this summer was likely to break tourism records.

"The industry has recorded 9 per cent growth in international visitor arrivals in the last 12 months, and the indications are that we will see that level of growth continue or even increase through the peak visitor season, especially with all the new air services coming into New Zealand."

He said Air New Zealand was starting regular services from Buenos Aires and Houston this month.

Philippines Air had started a service from Manila to Auckland. China Southern Airlines and China Airlines were starting new services into Christchurch, while China Eastern Airlines and Air China also had new services into Auckland.

"In addition, Jetstar's new regional services around New Zealand provide additional options for New Zealanders to travel around their own country.

"We are also looking forward to the first "Mondayisation" of Waitangi Day, giving New Zealanders an opportunity to enjoy another long weekend over summer, which is sure to see many people heading away from home for a few days.

"It's going to be a boomer."

Roberts said anyone planning a New Zealand holiday over the next few months should book early, as accommodation, flights and the most popular visitor activities would all be in great demand.

Northland is expecting a boost from Aucklanders and overseas tourists over the coming months.

Northland Inc general manager regional promotions, Paul Davis, said Northland guest nights were already up 6.1 per cent in the year to the the end of September compared to the same period last year.

"We've been in a growth pattern since late 2013 and we'd expect that growth to continue through the 2015-16 summer."

Auckland was Northland's largest market and the growth in Auckland's housing market was creating capital wealth.

"A lot of Aucklanders are feeling more wealthy and are more likely to spend some of that wealth on travel."

Additionally, more international visitors were coming to New Zealand for long holidays, allowing them more time to get to Northland.

Those visitors were coming from Australia, the UK, Germany, USA and Canada, said Davis.

Davis said Northland hosted many events over summer designed to give visitors things to do. Waitangi Day also always brought a lot of visitors to Northland.

The long, hot summer forecast would also help visitor numbers, he said.

Tourism Bay of Plenty assistant marketing and communications manager Abby Hadfield said events had ben planned to draw more tourists to the region.

This included Dave Dobbyn at On the Lawn in January and Trinity Roots, headlining this summer's New Year's Eve Celebrations at Mount Maunganui.

Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said new Jetstar flights between Auckland and Napier would undoubtedly add to the summer tourism scene.

Increased air capacity drove visitor numbers and she expected the new Jetstar flights would attract the same types of visitors who travelled on Air New Zealand.

The Jetstar schedule is expected to expand from three to four return services a day from February 1.

"That's an extra hundred passengers every day coming in, so it definitely will have an impact," said Dundas.

In Whanganui, the iSite information centre was getting busier every day, according to Whanganui & Partners promotion and marketing manager for Visit Whanganui, Lyn Cheyne.

More campervans were being seen in and around town, which was promising for the start of the tourist season.

Destination Wairarapa general manager David Hancock said it could also be another record-breaking year for summer tourism in the Wairarapa.

"Last summer set new records for credit card use by visitors to the region. Already we have reports from tourism operators talking about excellent forward bookings into February," he said.


Kim Fulton

Kim Fulton is a NZME. News Service regional reporter