More tourists visiting Auckland

View of Auckland from the summit of Mt Eden. Photo / File
View of Auckland from the summit of Mt Eden. Photo / File

Auckland's tourism and hospitality sector experiences unprecedented demand as more visitors from around the world arrive for holidays and business meetings.

China is now providing the most holidaymakers, though Australia is still the main market for overall visitors.

The total number of holiday visitors to Auckland reached 1.05 million in 2015, up 15 per cent from 912,000 in 2014, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand International Travel and Migration data.

Just over 241,000 Chinese enjoyed the tourism spots in the Auckland region last year, a rise of 37 per cent from 175,760 in 2014. At the same time 237, 660 holidaymakers came from Australia.

Overall, Australia produced the largest number of visitors including business and VFRs (visiting friends and relatives) - a total 777,780, up 4 per cent from 745,800 the previous year. There were 126,380 business visitors and 346,000 VFRs from across the Tasman.

Auckland hosted a record total of 2.217 million international visitors during 2015, up 9 per cent on the previous year.

Business visits rose 4 per cent to 208,300 in 2015, with strong growth from China (up 10 per cent), Japan (11 per cent), Germany (32 per cent) and Canada (up 16 per cent).

Other strong increases in total visitors came from: Korea, up 20 per cent to 31,300 from 26,000; Japan, a rise of 19 per cent to 49,200 from 41,400; United States, up 14 per cent to 109,790 from 96,290; and United Kingdom, a rise of 12 per cent to 60,200 from 53,600.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development Chief Executive Brett O'Riley says, "The region has benefitted from another record year of visitor arrivals and spend. In fact, it's been the largest tourism year in Auckland's history, with the region solidifying its reputation as a recognised international destination.

"Recording 15 per cent growth in holiday visitors is an impressive jump. The increase has been led by China and Australia, but it's great to see the return of the traditional high-yielding markets of Japan and United States."

O'Riley says new direct Auckland flights to Houston, Argentina and Dubai will attract further growth in visitors from the United States, South America and United Arab Emirates. There are also additional flights to Auckland from Malaysia and China by AirAsia X, Air China and China Eastern Airlines.

In the busy summer season, Auckland's hotels, motels and tourist operators are running to full capacity, with this rapid growth attracting new investment and additional jobs.

Tourism Industry Association - Auckland Hotels chair Paul Columbus says the high number of visitors is not surprising when the city's hotels are performing at 90 per cent plus occupancy rate (in the peak season).

For some nights in the past few weeks the `no vacancy' sign has gone up in downtown Auckland.

Columbus says there are people who are still not making plans to pre-book rooms and they are walking up to hotels and finding there's nothing available.

He says the main demand and accommodation constraints occur during three months of the year. And the new hotel developments over the next three to five years will certainly meet these demands.

Seven luxury hotels such as Sofitel So, Ritz-Carlton, Park Hyatt and SKYCITY are planned and will add up to 2000 rooms to Auckland's downtown accommodation scene.

Auckland Seaplanes CEO Chris Sattler had his busiest December and January since starting his scenic and charter flights two and a half years ago.

"The whole of the waterfront feels a lot busier. It's a nice place to be with good food and entertainment. The events are attracting more people to the area and the continued developments will turn the waterfront into a hub, away from Queen St and other locations."

Sattler says one trend he's noticed is the increase in Chinese independent travellers.

"They are looking for a unique, premium experience. Many of them are seeing a seaplane for the first time."

- NZME.

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