Friday, January 4, 2013

Up, Up And Away!

What's the most popular domestic holiday spot for New Zealanders?
It's whipped last year's winner the Coromandel as our favourite NZ holiday spot. One of the biggest drawcards for Queenstown has been cheaper domestic air travel, putting the southern town - famed for its adventure sports, skiing and stunning position on the shores of Lake Wakatipu - within easier reach of Kiwis. A recent Herald-DigiPoll survey shows Q'town is the preferred domestic destination of 26%, followed by Coromandel (22%), Bay of Islands (21%), and Nelson at 13% (not surprisingly, the spectacularly wild rugged West Coast - cut off by storms over New Year - doesn't rate highly).
Q'town's pricey reputation has mellowed recently, partly due to the falling price of airfares from Akld, Wgtn and Chch. This month Q'town Airport will see a 17% increase in flights compared to January last year. Air New Zealand has increased its capacity on direct services between Akld and Q'town by 32% - that's up to five services on some days.
Visitors have also found that Q'town's range of accommodation and activities very affordable. It's a year-round destination, and marketing's focused on reinforcing its range of activities.
Q'town is home to 20,000 but has about 2 million visitors a year, about 40% of which are domestic tourists. The past 9mths saw a recovery in visitor numbers, with domestic numbers increasing fastest.
+ Australia still tops our preferred overseas destinations at 27%, followed by the Pacific Islands (24%), London (21%), and Asia at 12%.
+ But kiwis' overseas travel is tipped for a change, as more of us regard Oz as merely a long domestic flight, often visiting for long weekends or for some sort of cultural or sporting activity. It's likely Hawaii will gain popularity this year, with Hawaiian Air starting Auckland-Honolulu flights three times weekly from 14 March. The airline will offer every passenger flying from NZ a generous checked baggage allowance of two items, each weighing up to 32kg! Air NZ will be laying on more seats in anticipation. That competition will also see prices becoming more favourable for a wee jaunt into the Pacific.

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