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NZ guest nights highest level in 20 years

NZN 11/05/2016 Sophie Boot

New Zealand guest nights rose in March for the 24th month in a row, reaching the highest level for the month in the 20-year history of the survey as all regions saw tourist number increases.

National guest nights advanced 12.3 per cent to 4 million in March from the same month a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said. International guest nights jumped 13.2 per cent, while domestic guest nights rose 11.5 per cent.

The increase in accommodation numbers comes as New Zealand tourism booms, with overseas visitor arrivals for March rising 18 per cent to 344,387, a record for that month.

That gain was driven by an increase in visitors from Australia, China and the United States.

Annual visitor numbers also rose 10 per cent to a record 3.26 million, with Easter being held in March this year rather than April as in 2015 boosting guest nights and overseas arrivals, according to Statistics NZ.

"Guest nights for March were boosted by an early Easter and increased visitor arrivals, and are the highest recorded for any March month," business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said.

Nights spent in the South Island increased 14.8 per cent to 1.73 million, with international guest nights rising 15.3 per cent and domestic nights up 14.2 per cent, while North Island guest nights rose 10.4 per cent to 2.26 million.

Regionally, this was led by Northland which gained 30.2 per cent compared to March 2015. The most popular region for guest nights was Auckland, at 689,000, while Otago increased 18 per cent to 609,000.

All four types of accommodation surveyed - hotels, motels, backpackers and holiday parks - reported gains in guest nights in March.

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