Fri, Dec 17, 2021 1:32 PM

Nelson proves a popular holiday search

One booking site has seen a surge in Kiwis interested in Nelson as a holiday destination, but local motel owners are still seeing a slow summer. Photo: File.

Erin Bradnock

Though holidaymakers appear to be looking to Nelson over other popular summer destinations, local accommodation providers are continuing to hold their breath.

Online travel agency Booking.com has revealed Nelson was the fourth most searched holiday destination for Kiwis this Christmas, an eight-place jump compared to summer searches in 2020.

Booking.com area manager Todd Lacey says these search results show Kiwis are looking outside the usual summer spots this season.

“Last year saw our people going to the typical summer destinations like the likes of the Coromandel and Northland for the New Year period. We’re seeing a trend of customers looking at different areas."

Nelson beat out popular Northern destinations including Auckland and Northland for bookings made in November for the holiday period of December 23 to January 6, while Queenstown, Taupo and Wellington took out first, second and third place respectively.

Beaches Nelson owner Mike Shuttleworth says while sites like Booking.com are seeing Nelson as a comparatively popular spot for holidaymakers nationally, Nelson won’t be looking as busy as last year.

“People don’t have that confidence to travel. Accommodation was really good in Nelson until our last lockdown,” he says.

He says bookings have come down to half of what they were before Covid-19 arrived in 2020.

Manager at Palms Motel Nelson Robyn Thomson says they have felt the impact of kiwi’s holding off on travel plans.

“I definitely think people are holding off on bookings which isn’t good for us. There’s no way it’s as busy as it normally is,” she says.

She feels that on top of people struggling more financially because of Covid-19, she's seeing first-hand people's anxiety around travelling.

“I know I’m feeling anxious about what’s going to come to Nelson. I feel as though we’ve just about lost all the good times for summer, everyone’s so cautious,” she says.

Todd says they too have seen holidaymakers hesitate with booking a summer holiday, leading to a jump in bookings over the last two weeks.

“We’re expecting it to pick up more in the lead up to Christmas as people begin to understand the traffic light system a bit more,” Todd says.

Beaches Nelson owner Mike Shuttleworth says while bookings on the whole are down compared to pre Covid-19 days, last-minute bookings have been filling the usual busy period of Christmas to the New Year.

“People aren’t too sure with what’s happening with Covid yet, so we’re seeing those last-minute bookings,” Mike says.