ANDY JACKSON / THINGS / Stuff
King and Queen Hotel Suite owner Daniel Fleming will be busy over Easter.
Finding a bed in Taranaki this Easter isn’t going to be easy.
Every hotel, motel and Airbnb room in New Plymouth has been booked for the holiday season – although no large-scale events are planned in the area.
Taranaki Chamber of Commerce chairman Daniel Fleming, who also owns King and Queen Hotel Suites in New Plymouth’s central business district, said it looked like the start of a new period of domestic tourism after a period of prolonged caution.
“I think there’s a lot of pent-up demand and a really good example of the region as a really successful destination for travellers,” he said.
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While many people would be in town for meetings and other smaller events, Fleming believed the Easter period encouraged more people to visit Taranaki from further afield as it was a four-day break.
“We usually only book like this when there is a big event and we hope it could be the start of a very good period with Synthony the following weekend,” he said, referring to the concert at the Bowl of Booklands on Saturday, April 23.
Successful commercialization of the area by Venture Taranaki, including the development of the Coastal Arts Trail, would also have contributed to a full Easter after a prolonged period of struggle associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, Fleming said.
There was also a concerted effort by business owners and those in the hotel and restaurant sectors to raise the bar on what was on offer.
“We are more than just a dairy and gas region,” Fleming said.
“People who come here don’t realize what a great destination it is. We are raising our game through public and private investment.
Accommodation is also scarce in the rest of the region, with motels and motorhomes in Stratford and Hāwera nearly full for Easter.
Hāwera Central Motor Lodge owner Carolyn Hughes said while it was a popular stopping point for business clients during the week, rooms were generally available on weekends and public holidays.
That changed over Easter with his campervan booked at a large family reunion for a party.
She said it was a similar story all over the town of South Taranaki for the holidays, with a number of big get-togethers planned.
While Taranaki’s popularity as a top Easter destination was great news for the region’s economy, Fleming said it would likely be a strain for some in the hospitality industry due to staff shortages. .
The biggest challenge, he said, was finding people to fill positions usually filled by international workers who had not been allowed to enter New Zealand for the past two years due to the border closure.