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Lake Wanaka continues upwards trend in visitor numbers

Lake Wanaka continues upwards trend in visitor numbers
September 17, 2011

Lake Wanaka is continuing its upward trend in domestic and international visitor numbers, guest nights and length of stay with record numbers across the board.

The July figures just released by Statistics New Zealand showed guest nights in the South Island resort town to be up by 26.7% over 2010 figures, compared with an average increase of just 2% across New Zealand. Of these, international guest nights accounted for a 19.8% increase to 40,766 while domestic nights rocketed by 39.9% to 24,487.

Compared to other regions, Lake Wanaka is the only South Island location to feature an increase with the likes of Queenstown and West Coast down 10.9% and 7.6% respectively. Unsurprisingly Canterbury recorded the largest decrease at 28.9%.

Lake Wanaka Tourism General Manager James Helmore said the results were a continuation of an on-going trend dating back to November 2010 which had seen consistent increases in the region's visitor numbers, when compared to the same period in 2010.

"These figures are fantastic for Wanaka and Wanaka businesses. They reflect the ongoing work by Lake Wanaka Tourism in building awareness and appeal of Wanaka as a destination through all markets, both domestic and international.

"It's all about getting visitors and potential visitors to connect with the values of the Lake Wanaka Lifestyle Reserve identity. One of our most successful ways in doing this is through our Revealing Lake Wanaka series of short videos that goes out through our social media channels. The latest, featuring freeskier Jossi Wellls, has received over 12,000 views in just a couple of days."

However, Helmore cautioned that while overall figures were positive, there was a wider variation of results within the different tourism sectors than in previous years, adding "some businesses are doing exceptionally well while others are wondering where all the visitors have gone.

"In addition, the forward outlook is extremely uncertain with the economies of traditional markets under pressure."

Leigh Stock, Wanaka Chamber of Commerce president and general manager of Edgewater, confirmed the difference in results, stating "there was some disparity between accommodation providers during July and this has a lot to do with the mix of clientele coming through. What these results really highlight is the importance of marketing and getting your business out there, even in these uncertain times."

Alex Ford from Aspiring Helicopters said despite the late start to the ski season, they also saw an increase in tourism numbers.

Ford stated "obviously heliskiing was down due to the lack of snow but what we missed out on in heliskiing we gained in scenic flights. I would say 90% of our clients were Australians here during school holidays and looking for activities off the mountain."

Puzzling World General Manager Duncan Spear, said while he'd like to say his numbers were up by the same level as accommodation, the attraction only saw a small increase of about 4% through the doors in July.

Spear concluded "our group numbers were well up, particularly groups from SE Asia and China. We were hoping to see the huge increases we saw in May and June continue through but they seem to have tapered off. Retail is definitely still lagging a bit but the group market is without doubt our bread and butter."

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