Holiday season a busy one

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Anecdotal accounts of fully booked accommodation and increased i-Site sales indicate Central Otago is experiencing a busy holiday season.

Alexandra motels are already taking bookings for next season and sales at the Ranfurly i-Site are up more than 20%.

Alexandra Motor Lodge owner John Affleck said his units were booked out until the end of January.

“We’ve been pretty busy.

“We’ve got a lot of people booking for next year already.

“Next Christmas is nearly full.”

He said a lot of his patrons were fruit industry workers, and he had had to turn away people who had walked off the street hoping to get a room without a booking.

People unable to obtain accommodation in Queenstown and Wanaka seemed to be filtering down into Alexandra, he said.

It was only his second summer as owner of the lodge, but he had spoken to several other accommodation providers in Alexandra to gauge how the holiday period compared with last year.

“They all say it’s one of the bigger years they’ve seen in a long time.”

Cromwell Top 10 Holiday Park owner Richard Wallis said numbers were comparable to last year.

Tourism Central Otago media and marketing manager Alison Mason said the Ranfurly i-Site had reported a more than 20% increase in sales.

“It’s certainly much busier than what they were last season.

“Their retail sales are well up – that’s an indication generally of what’s happening in the area.

“They’ve had a great summer,” she said.

The Maniototo attracted a range of visitors, from families riding the Otago Central Rail Trail through to international visitors, she said.

“You’ve still got good Rail Trail business and lots of family groups coming through on that.

“But they’re also seeing good visitation from people who are just coming in on holiday – good numbers out of Canterbury, wider Otago, Wellington and Auckland.

“They’re seeing lots of Australians come through, especially for the cycling, and good numbers from the US as well.”

The increase in overseas visitors was usually in response to airline capacity and routes, she said.

“The US has been a huge growth market into New Zealand .. There’s a lot more capacity on those routes into New Zealand with great connections into Queenstown.

“That allows us to access that audience.”

The outstanding weather helped to attract visitors, she said.

“The benefits of being in one of the better parts of the country that’s benefiting from a great summer is amazing in that visitors’ space.

“It’s something we can be thankful for.”