Southland on the money as tourists buy in to the region
Overseas tourists to Southland are spending more money in the region but domestic spending is down.
Information released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) shows the tourism spend for the Southland region was an estimated $531m for the year to April 2016 - up three per cent on the previous year.
MBIE estimated the total consisted of international visitors spending $192m in Southland during the year to April 2016 and domestic tourists spending $339m.
The international spend was up 11 per cent and the domestic spend was down two per cent compared to the previous year.
Waiau Hotel owner Quinton Donald said his Tuatapere hotel had seen its best year for occupancy levels since 2004.
Donald said guests overflowed from Queenstown, Te Anau and Manapouri.
During events in Invercargill guests would book nights in Riverton and Tuatapere when they could not get a room in the city, Donald said.
"We had quite a few nights where we were fully booked out. It was very unusual."
Venture Southland tourism team leader Warrick Low said he had expected the increase to be even higher than three per cent.
Low said tourism had been strong across New Zealand.
"We've got to be realistic in that we are working hard to get some visitors from Queenstown and Dunedin, and getting them to take the next leg down."
Flights to Invercargill cost more than other cities, however, Southland was an inexpensive place to travel within, Low said.
International visitors now wanted a genuine and authentic tourism experience.
"It's the things Southlanders take for granted, whether it's our cheese rolls or our oysters.
"People are seeing a genuine part of New Zealand and, literally, buying in to it."
The Bill Richardson Transport World was pulling in more domestic and international visitors, Low said.
"Bit by bit, that's bringing a whole lot of spending in," he said.
The transport museum, Invercargill's only permanent paid entry attraction, had 1000 visitors during the Bluff Oyster Festival in May. It also welcomed 10,000 visitors in the first two months.
MBIE manager of sector trends Peter Ellis said the data provided detailed information on regional spending.
Better regional tourism expenditure information would help inform investment and planning in the tourism industry, Ellis said.
The monthly regional tourism estimates measured the expenditure of international and domestic visitors in regions in New Zealand. The data is based on administrative transaction data.
By the numbers: Southland tourism expenditure ($m) to the month of April