Feb a bumper month for tourists

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Businesses around Oamaru have noticed that February has been a lot busier than previous years.

Tourist traffic throughout February was as busy as it’s ever been Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill said.

February is often regarded by many as the busiest month for visitors, and it again showed this year with foot traffic into the Oamaru i-Site well up on last February.

Mr Gaskill said the number of visitors to the region in February has kept many places busy.

“The Alps2Ocean, penguin colony and various other tourist adventures run by Tourism Waitaki have had a bumper of a month, we’ve been incredibly busy.”

While he’s unsure exactly what the cause of more visitors to the region is he’s incredibly happy they’re stopping in town though.

“It’s great to see people stopping off in Oamaru now and taking the time to have a look around and take in some of the tourist ventures which are so unique for the town.”

With plenty of visitors in town, Mr Gaskill said the penguin colony received many of the visitors.

“I think it’s just about been the busiest ever February we’ve ever had there, large numbers of people have been to visit the colony and that only bodes well for the future.”

Mr Gaskill said with the larger number of visitors, six different tourist ventures have asked to sign on for future years.

Chinese New Year fell in February and Mr Gaskill said the town did experience a large number of overseas visitors.

“I’m not exactly sure of the numbers but we’ve had plenty of Chinese tourists come through during February to celebrate Chinese New Year and that’s been pleasing for the district.”

The goal now for Tourism Waitaki is to continue it on in the future and make summer and February next year bigger than this year.

“We are always aiming to increase visitors and will look to make next year bigger and better than this year.”

A large number of the tourists to Oamaru have been as a result of international flights carrying 20% more international passengers than usual.

Steampunk HQ also had a bumper February, spokeswoman Jan Kennedy said.

“Steampunk HQ has been busy throughout February.

“We have noticed a lot more New Zealand visitors. Initially it was families throughout Christmas-January and now its couples and retirees.”

Mrs Kennedy said international visitor numbers have been consistently steady.

“Our new Infinity Portal has been the major drawcard this summer,” she said.

Oamaru Licensing Trust general manager Justin Ludlow said the Brydone Hotel had been very busy.

“Over the last four weeks we have been at either 100% capacity or in the high 90s and that’s been awesome for us.”

The large number of visitors has had a flow-on effect within the Brydone with many tourist asking for accommodation also eating here as well, Mr Ludlow said.

“Chinese New Year has brought more people to the area, but we’ve noticed that February has been busier than previous years.”

By Brayden Lindsay

PHOTO: FILE  – Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill is happy tourist numbers are up.