1493346608231 - Kiwis shrug off wet summer with overseas holidays

Kiwis shrug off wet summer with overseas holidays

Torrential rain, flooding and an AWOL summer – it’s enough to make a Kiwi think of chasing the sun this winter.

And they are, with travel agencies reporting a surge in bookings for “flop and drop” holidays this year.

Outbound travel is on the rise, with bookings at Flight Centre up more than 10 per cent year on year.

Anywhere with sunshine had been popular over the summer, including Bali, Samoa, and Brisbane, Flight Centre NZ’s general manager Sean Berenson said.

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​Hawaii was also “going crazy,” with bookings were up 15 per cent on last year, driven by competition between Hawaiian Airlines and Air New Zealand.

“And we’re also seeing a lot of growth in the US and Europe as well,” he said, with some return airfares to Europe or America slipping under $1000.

Kiwis were taking the opportunity to travel further and to travel more often, Berenson said.

“A customer that five years ago would have had to save up to go once in 2014, is now looking in 2017 and saying, you know what, we can go on three holidays, we can absolutely spend the same amount of money.”

Air fares have fallen globally because of cheaper fuel prices and larger, more efficient planes.

But the price drop in New Zealand has been amplified by competition, as more airlines fly here to join the tourist boom.

More inbound flights meant more seats for outbound Kiwi travellers, House of Travel’s commercial director Brent Thomas said.

“Places like Europe – airfares a few years ago would have been well over $3000 to travel at peak times, and we’re still seeing airfares sub-$2000. That’s a material difference.”

House of Travel had also seen people planning winter trips earlier than usual.

“People have been coming in and going, I need to think about my winter holiday because I sure haven’t had a great summer one,” Thomas said.

Traditional holiday spots like Fiji, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast were still popular, but South-east Asia was increasing winning favour, with Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines now on people’s radar.

“And what we do notice more and more is that people are prepared to get on a plane for longer than three to five hours – what we would call a mid-haul flight – to go to a destination, and not even necessarily for a week,” Thomas said.

“They’re prepared to travel that distance for what would constitute a long weekend.” 

But if people were still considering a winter break, he advised them to hurry, as some countries such as Fiji and the Cook Islands were not building enough accommodation to meet rising demand.

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