Tourists to Nelson on the rise in bumper season

Louise Neilson of Abstrax.on Textiles at her stall at  Nelson Market on Saturday.

Nelson's warm sunny weather and an increase in tourists are boosting sales and bringing a buzz to the city.

While a couple of rainy days over New Years threatened sales at the Saturday market, stall holders say tourists have continued to pack out the market every week.

"There's definitely a lot more tourists around, they come in waves," said Abstrax.on Textiles stallholder Louise Neilson.




A busy Saturday at Nelson Market.

She said things were only going to get better from here given that there were still a few warm months to come.

Echo Echo stall holder Lyn Watkins said tourist numbers had picked up at the market and cheaper flights in and out of the region could be a contributing factor.

"I've seen a few more Aucklanders... for a lot of people at the market we need to be busy December through to March before winter. It's good to have them about," he said.

While Nelson Tasman Tourism was yet to receive specific statistics on the tourist count to Nelson this summer, chief executive Lynda Keene said feedback from across all industries had been positive.

She said foot traffic at Nelson i-SITE was up 15 per cent this summer which was a good indicator that more tourists were coming to the region.

"The people that come through the door reflect the people going out and spending funds."

She said the new airlines that launched in Nelson over 2015 were factors in contributing to the increase.

"Jetstar, Originair and Kiwi Regional have really helped us make a profile of the region, we're now getting a broader reach into different parts of the world," she said.

With the impending launch of the Jetstar Nelson to Wellington service and the return of popular winter events including Light Nelson, the bumper season looked set to continue long into 2016, said Keene.

"We're anticipating a better winter in 2016. It was a bit flat last winter... we are in good shape," she said.

Tasman's Great Taste Trail has also proved to be a drawcard for visitors, with trail counters showing a 19 per cent increase in users over 2015.

A total of 224,000 people used the trail over the year, said Nelson Tasman Cycle Trust chair Gillian Wratt.

Over the 11 day Christmas and New Year period trail counters showed 13,000 people used the trail, well up from the 9000 counted in the previous year.

Hot spot Kaiteriteri also tripled its user numbers over the same period this year.

"The whole thing is ticking over nicely and businesses along the cycle trail are reaping the benefits," said Wratt.

Nicky McBride of Wheelie Fantastic in Mapua said there had been a noticeable increase in international cyclists.

"We expect numbers to continue to grow. It is our fifth season and it is shaping up to be our busiest," McBride said.

Nelson Economic Development Agency chief executive Bill Findlater said the Nelson region was stacking up well against other regions in New Zealand as the summer months brought in an influx of visitors.

"It's been a really good summer for us I think for the whole region... it just has a really good feel about it," he said.

Uniquely Nelson manager Simon Duffy said feedback from retailers in the city had been positive and things were set to get busier with the Trafalgar Street Market Day event at the end of January where he was expecting more than 8,000 people to attend.

"All the stalls are sold out and in conjunction with the buskers it's looking great," he said.

 - Stuff