New Zealand guest nights fell in September as locals failed to pick up the slack from dwindling international visitor numbers.
Total guest nights at short-term commercial accommodation fell 3.6% to 2.11 million in September, compared to the same month a year earlier, and were down 1.4% from August, Statistics New Zealand says.
That was led by a 28% plunge in international visitor nights to 709,000 from the same month a year ago, when New Zealand accommodation was bolstered by the Rugby World Cup. International visitor nights were down 4.7% to a seasonally adjusted 956,000 from August.
"The trend for international guest nights has been generally falling since a high point in September 2011," Statistics NZ says in its report.
Government figures showed the number of short-term visitors shrank 19% to 179,100 in September from a year earlier, when the country was flooded by fans for the Rugby World Cup.
New Zealand tourism has been struggling to cope with a resiliently high currency and increasing costs of long-haul travel, which have tarnished the appeal of a holiday in the South Pacific. That has seen national carrier Air New Zealand streamline its routes and team up with government agencies to target key markets.
Today's figures showed domestic guest nights were up 16% to 1.4 million from September 2011, though down 0.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis from a month earlier. Locals tended to shy away from short-term accommodation last year during the Rugby World Cup.
Hotel guest nights rose 2.3% to 809,000 in September from the same month a year earlier and motels, motor inns and apartments report a 0.8% gain in guest nights to 869,000.
Backpackers showed a 16% drop in guest nights to 261,000 and holiday parks reported a 15% dip in guest nights to 294,000 from September 2011.
Accommodation capacity shrank 2% to 4.1 million in the year, while occupancy rates, excluding holiday parks, fell 2.3 percentage points to 43.5%.