Occupancy at Auckland hotels reached a record high in what has been described as a golden summer for tourism.

Figures released today by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) show hotel occupancy reached new levels with domestic and international visitors increasing the occupancy rate to 83 per cent for the year ending February.

An additional 77,000 hotel rooms were sold in the year ending February compared with the previous 12 months. These additional rooms, coupled with an increase in room rates, resulted in $27.9 million more spent on Auckland hotel rooms compared with the previous year.

Hotel occupancy rates are continuing to rise despite more properties being built, a sign of Auckland's strong and growing visitor economy. After a period of slow growth in the wake of the global financial crisis, the hotel sector is bouncing back as better yields are encouraging more investment. The latest Ateed figures do not include many of those who came for the Cricket World Cup which, tourism manager Jason Hill said, would boost the numbers further.

He said big events were attracting more visitors from overseas but particularly from within this country, where the fastest year-on-year growth was found.

The number of New Zealanders visiting Auckland in the year to February reached more than four million domestic annual guest nights. This past year was also the first time Auckland had reached three million annual international guest nights.

Annual domestic guest nights for the year ending January increased by 7.7 per cent compared with the corresponding period a year earlier, with annual international guest nights up 1.6 per cent.

Not only are hotel occupancy rates at record levels, but visitors are also staying longer with the average length of stay up 4.4 per cent to 2.12 nights for the year ending January 2015.

According to Tourism Industry Association figures, average daily room rates have also increased to $150.53 compared with $142.35 in the previous year. In February they peaked at $188.10 as "no vacancy" signs went up throughout the city.

Hill said some operators had to turn away international business to other destinations during February although hotel building underway should help ease accommodation shortages in coming years.

The Auckland Visitor Plan aims to expand the region's visitor economy from a $4.8 billion industry in 2012 to a $7.2 billion sector in 2021.

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