NEW ZEALAND’S tourism boom is proving to be challenging, especially with the lack of hotel rooms in tourist-heavy areas like Auckland.
In fact, the North Island city was so full up to last month that a group of elderly American tourists had to stay at a Maori meeting house for the night when their flight back to the US was delayed.
According to Bloomberg, government research pointed to a likely shortage of over 4,500 hotel rooms by 2025, even after taking into account the construction of about 5,200 new rooms by then.
Adventure tourism operator Ngai Tahu Tourism chief executive officer Quinton Hall told Bloomberg: “We’ve got a natural cap on our peak period right now because we just don’t have the accommodation in New Zealand. Even if they wanted to come, they couldn’t find anywhere to sleep.”
The lack of rooms is also contributing to a hike in rates, with nightly prices spiking nine percent from last year to an average of NZ$197 (US$139).
Hotels.com brand marketing manager for Australia and New Zealand David Spasovic told the NZ Herald the rising value of the New Zealand dollar had not hampered tourists.
“The year ahead looks strong with increased air routes opening up New Zealand to more corners of the globe, and its role as co-host for major sporting events like the Rugby League World Cup and LPGA golf tour,” he said.
On top of the lack of hotel rooms, the tourist surge is also contributing to the overuse and mismanagement of infrastructure.
Federated Mountain Club (FMC), an umbrella organization for 80 hiking groups across the country, said in a statement: “Tourism impacts on infrastructure are obvious. Roads, car parks, campsites, conservation honeypots, even recreation access across private land, all are creaking under the load, much of which is down to sheer numbers.”
Locals are also not happy about footing the bill to maintain and repair infrastructure.
Tourist numbers climbed 12 percent in 2016 to a record-breaking 3.5 million with the industry recording a significant US$24 billion in revenues.