Accommodation Survey: December 2011

Commentary

Guest nights rise in December month but fall for December year

Total guest nights in short-term commercial accommodation numbered 3.2 million in December 2011, up 1.4 percent from December 2010. In contrast, annual guest nights for the December 2011 year numbered 32 million, which was a fall of 0.7 percent compared with the December 2010 year.

North Island guest nights rose 3.9 percent in December 2011 compared with December 2010, while South Island guest nights fell 2.0 percent. The Canterbury region continued to show the largest fall, followed by Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman, parts of which were affected by flooding in December 2011. Canterbury also had the largest fall in annual guest nights for the December 2011 year. To put the size of this decrease into context, the combined yearly increases for Auckland, Wellington, and Waikato (which had the largest yearly increases for all regions) were more than offset by Canterbury's fall.

In the December 2011 year, guest nights fell in backpacker accommodation and hotels, but rose in motels and holiday parks, compared with the December 2010 year. 

The trend for total guest nights shows small increases from the February 2011 low point, provisionally increasing 1.4 percent over this time.  

Graph, Total guest nights, monthly.

North Island guest nights continue to rise

North Island guest nights numbered 1.9 million in December 2011, up 3.9 percent from December 2010, and up 2.8 percent from December 2009.

More guest nights were recorded in all North Island regions than in the previous December month, except Northland and Wellington. The Auckland region had the largest increase (up 12 percent), followed by Waikato (up 4.5 percent), and Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui (up 4.6 percent).

The trend for North Island guest nights has been rising since June 2010, up 7.2 percent over this time. The trend is now at its highest level in its 15-year history.

 Graph, North Island guest nights, monthly.

South Island guest nights still down after Canterbury earthquakes

South Island guest nights numbered 1.3 million in December 2011, down 2.0 percent from December 2010, and down 6.0 percent from December 2009.

The effects of the Canterbury earthquakes continue, with the region's guest nights down 14 percent (70,000) compared with the same month last year. The main driver continues to be a drop in hotel guest nights, particularly by international visitors. Accommodation capacity is down in Canterbury,especially for hotels and backpacker accommodation. The Canterbury earthquakes began on 4 September 2010, but the main drop in accommodation capacity was caused by the 22 February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch.

Other regions to record decreases were Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman (down 3.3 percent) and Southland (down 2.0 percent). Otago (up 12 percent) recorded the largest South Island increase, partly offsetting the Canterbury fall. The West Coast also recorded an increase in guest nights (up 1.8 percent).

The trend for South Island guest nights has been declining since the high point of the series in January 2010, down 9.5 percent over this time.

Graph, South Island guest nights, monthly.  

Annual guest nights rise in the North Island but fall in the South

North Island guest nights numbered 19 million in the December 2011 year, up 4.1 percent from the December 2010 year. Annual South Island guest nights numbered 13 million, down 7.4 percent from the previous December year.

Six of the 12 regions recorded decreases in guest nights compared with the December 2010 year.

Regions with the largest annual decreases in guest nights were:

  • Canterbury, down almost 1.0 million (19 percent)
  • West Coast, down 53,000 (4.5 percent)
  • Southland, down 51,000 (6.1 percent).

Regions with the largest increases in annual guest nights were:

  • Auckland, up 562,000 (9.9 percent)
  • Wellington, up 164,000 (6.3 percent)
  • Waikato, up 78,000 (2.9 percent).

 Graph, Annual guest nights, by region, December 2010 and 2011 years.

 

International guest nights fall, led by Canterbury

International visitors spent 1.3 million guest nights in New Zealand in December 2011. This number is down 2.3 percent from December 2010, and down 7.8 percent from December 2009.  International guest nights rose 6.2 percent in the North Island, but decreased 10 percent in the South Island, compared with December 2010.

Five of the country's 12 regions had falls in international guest nights for the December 2011 month. The three regions showing the largest decreases, as in the graph below, were:

  • Canterbury, down 70,000 (29 percent)
  • Northland, down 11,000 (15 percent)
  • Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman, down 9,000 (9.3 percent).

The three regions showing the largest increases were:

  • Auckland, up 30,000 (13 percent)
  • Waikato, up 16,000 (18 percent)
  • Otago, up 6,000 (2.4 percent).

Graph, International guest nights, by region, December 2010 and 2011.  

International visitors in December 2011 contributed 42 percent of total guest nights, down from 43 percent in December 2010.

There were almost 13 million international guest nights for the year ended December 2011, down 3.2 percent from the year ended December 2010. September and October 2011 were the only months in which international guest nights increased (compared with the same month a year earlier) in the December 2011 year. The Rugby World Cup contributed to these increases.

Monthly visitor arrivals reach an all-time high

Short-term overseas visitor arrivals to New Zealand numbered 364,200 in December 2011, the highest recorded for any month, according to International Travel and Migration statistics. This was 5 percent more than the previous high of 345,700 in December 2010. December is normally the highest month each year for visitor arrivals, while the winter months of May and June are the lowest. 

There were 2.601 million visitor arrivals to New Zealand in the December 2011 year. This was up 3 percent from the December 2010 year, and is the first time that annual visitor numbers have passed 2.6 million. A number of major events affected visitor arrivals in 2011, including the Canterbury earthquakes, flight disruptions due to volcanic ash, and the Rugby World Cup, which attracted 133,200 overseas visitors between July and October 2011. 
 

Domestic guest nights rise, led by Otago 

Domestic visitors accounted for 1.9 million guest nights in December 2011, up 4.1 percent from December 2010, and up 4.4 percent from December 2009. Domestic guest nights rose 6.9 percent in the South Island and 2.6 percent in the North Island.

The regions with the largest increases in domestic guest nights, as in the graph below, were:

  • Otago, up 44,000 (26 percent)
  • Auckland, up 33,000 (12 percent)
  • Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui, up 9,000 (9.0 percent).

The regions with the largest decreases in domestic guest nights, which were small in comparison to the increases, were:

  • Wellington, down 6,000 (4.1 percent)
  • Hawke's Bay/Gisborne, down 5,000 (4.6 percent)
  • Bay of Plenty, down 3,000 (1.6 percent).

Graph, Domestic guest nights, by region, December 2010 and 2011.  

There were over 19 million domestic guest nights for the year ended December 2011, up 1.1 percent from the previous December year.

Guest nights in motels and holiday parks increase

Motels and holiday parks recorded increases in guest nights in December 2011, compared with December 2010, while backpacker accommodation and hotels recorded decreases.

Guest nights in:

  • motels rose 42,000 (4.7 percent)
  • holiday parks rose 41,000 (4.7 percent)
  • backpacker accommodation fell 24,000 (5.3 percent)
  • hotels fell 16,000 (1.6 percent).

Canterbury was a significant driver in all of these movements.

Graph, Holiday park guest nights, monthly.  

The trend for holiday park guest nights has risen since the most recent low point in September 2010, reaching its highest level since the series began in 1996.

Nationally, hotels accounted for 30 percent of overall guest nights in December 2011, followed by motels (29 percent), holiday parks (28 percent), and backpacker accommodation (13 percent).

For the December 2011 year, hotels (down 5.0 percent) and backpacker accommodation (down 2.2 percent) recorded decreases when compared with the December 2010 year. Motels (up 2.5 percent) and holiday parks (up 2.7 percent), both recorded year ended increases.

Nationally, hotels accounted for 33 percent of overall guest nights for the December 2011 year, followed by motels (33 percent), holiday parks (20 percent), and backpacker accommodation (14 percent).

Graph, Annual guest nights, by accommodation type, December year, 2006 to 2011.

Accommodation capacity reduced by Canterbury earthquakes

Total available capacity in short-term accommodation was 4.4 million stay unit nights in December 2011. This number is down 2.6 percent from both December 2010 and down 2.5 percent from December 2009.

For the year ended December 2011, total available capacity was 50.7 million stay unit nights. This number is down 2.3 percent from the year ended December 2010, and down 1.2 percent from the year ended December 2009.

The decrease in capacity was primarily due to the Canterbury earthquakes, particularly the 22 February 2011 quake, which put numerous hotel and backpacker establishments out of operation.

In December 2011 compared with December 2010, three of the four accommodation types had fewer stay unit nights available:

  • hotels, down 61,000 (5.9 percent)
  • backpackers, down 42,000 (4.9 percent)
  • motels, down 23,000 (2.5 percent).

Holiday parks were the only accommodation type to record an increase, up 8,000 (0.5 percent). 

Occupancy rate increases

Excluding holiday parks, the occupancy rate in December 2011 compared with December 2010 was 50 percent, up 1.1 percentage points.

In December 2011, excluding holiday parks, the Auckland region had the highest occupancy rate (60 percent), followed by Otago (54 percent), and Canterbury (53 percent). 

In December 2011 compared with December 2010, the largest changes in occupancy rate were in:

  • Canterbury, up 3.1 percentage points
  • Bay of Plenty, up 2.4 percentage points
  • West Coast, down 1.6 percentage points
  • Otago, up 1.4 percentage points.

Hotels had the highest occupancy rate (55 percent) in December 2011, followed by motels (50 percent), and backpacker accommodation (46 percent).

 Graph, Occupancy rate, by accommodation type, December month, 2006 to 2011.

Excluding holiday parks, the occupancy rate for the year ended December 2011 was 50 percent, up 1.6 percentage points from the December 2010 year and up 2.0 percent from the December 2009 year.

For more detailed data from the Accommodation Survey, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.