More tourists visiting the Waitaki District

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More than 210,000 tourists came to New Zealand shores last month, making it the second busiest October on record.

The growth of 8 per cent from last October led to a considerable increase in visitor numbers to Oamaru and the greater Waitaki District.

Tourism Waitaki marketing manager Ian Elliott said the growth indicated a positive outlook for the summer months.

“It looks like Oamaru is becoming more of a must-see for international tourists as opposed to a small number of people stumbling across us,” he said.

“Operators are telling us they’ve got significantly more bookings than last year.”

The jump in tourist numbers was largely due to a 6000 increase in Chinese visitors, an extra 4400 Australians who headed across the ditch and an increase in visitors from the United States and Japan, up 2100 and 1100 respectively.

With the total number of guest nights for the year ending September up 19 per cent to 384,406, the recent influx of visitors was likely to show real benefit for the community.

“The economic impact of that figure is significant. Growth in town is active growth for the Waitaki District,” said Mr Elliott.

Tourism within the district injected an excess of $100,000,000 into the local economy every year.

A shift in tourists’ perspectives had made Oamaru a more desirable place to to visit, said Mr Elliott.

“People are coming back to the South Island more than once . . .people want a more varied experience.

“It seems to be quite a lot of people in the Victorian Precinct. That area is becoming more of a vested interest.”

A combined effort by tourism operators, the council and other local bodies had worked hard to promote Oamaru and the Waitaki District as a “slice of New Zealand”.

“Our broad goal is to get more people to come here, participate in more activities and then to stay longer.

“We’ve got quite a special tourist zone.”

By ALASTAIR LYNN

PHOTO: Swiss tourists Mirco Gyr and Madja Kaelin visit the Victorian Precinct yesterday.