Domestic tourism numbers positive

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JOHN.COSGROVE@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

Recent Clutha District Council (CDC) visitor statistics have shown that despite Covid-19 Alert Level 2 restrictions, domestic visitor numbers have held up — with Owaka and Lawrence offsetting decreases in Balclutha and Milton.

The August visitor statistics show that despite the national downturn in numbers due to an almost 95% reduction in international visitors, the make-up of visitors to the Clutha district has changed dramatically since the Covid-19 pandemic and border closures disrupted the entire travel industry back in March.

International visits to the five regional service centres, (Balclutha, Lawrence, Milton, Owaka and Tapanui) were down almost 94% during August, but domestic travel numbers were up 2% and reflect an overall 23% increase compared to 2019 figures.

Owaka had the biggest upswing in domestic tourism, offering a 47% increase in visitors from around the country, Lawrence and Tapanui also had a rise of 29% while Balclutha and Milton suffered 14% and 20% reductions in visitors, respectively.

Clutha residents living around the popular coastal areas would have noticed a large increase in recent weeks of camper vans stopping by or passing through.

Nelson visitor Keith Crocker said in the months he and wife, Sali, had been travelling south they had noticed a big increase in motor-homes on the road.

“We just follow the map most days, but when we were over on the West Coast recently the roads were very busy with motor-homes . A lot of that is due to the Motor Caravan Association reopening their parks. When they did that everyone hit the roads again and adding to that was the fact that many people could no longer go overseas so they have been out touring around New Zealand,” Mr Crocker said.

The CDC was also advised that a central location had been secured for the i-Site’s temporary premises.

A small amount of internal work would start later this month, with a view to the staff moving in late November-early December.

Widespread promotion of the move would take place as soon as they had have a more definite date for the relocation.