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Chinese tourists discover motels

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/02/2017 Pattrick Smellie

A new breed of more independent Chinese tourists is helping drive an explosion in the number of international visitors staying in New Zealand motels.

Traditionally, motels have attracted far less of the international tourist trade than other accommodation options, with about two-thirds of motel guests being Kiwis, in part because the concept of holiday accommodation with its own full kitchen is almost unknown outside Australia and New Zealand.

However, Statistics New Zealand's November accommodation survey results, published on Thursday, showed the sixth month in a row of 20 per cent-plus growth in international guest nights in motels versus the same month a year earlier.

In November, some 378,000 of the total 1.6 million nights spent in New Zealand by international visitors were spent in motels, an increase of 29 per cent on November 2015. The total international visitor number for the month was also another record, and up 5.1 per cent on the previous November, reflecting New Zealand's ongoing international tourism boom.

Tourism bodies put the trend to motel use down to two main factors: international tourists "discovering" the category and efforts to encourage travel to a wider range of regional destinations.

"If you're successful in getting international travellers exploring every part of the country, then you would expect to see that motels doing well," said Chris Roberts, head of Tourism Industry Aotearoa, an industry umbrella body. "Outside the main centres, there are plenty of sizeable New Zealand towns that don't have hotels."

Mr Roberts said there was also a notable increase in the use of holiday parks by international tourists, with many such parks now investing in more motel-style accommodation as well as the traditional campground cabins, campervan and tent sites.

Rachael Shadbolt, the general manager for communications at Hospitality New Zealand said the trend to more international travellers, especially Asian people, staying in motels was a phenomenon that motel owners were starting to notice.

The growing number of independent Chinese tourists was a major change from "the coach tours of old, that filled hotels".

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