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Backpackers market expanding

Published: 7:09PM Saturday June 08, 2002

The budget accommodation favoured by student travellers is taking off.

Tourists to New Zealand are increasingly shunning hotels and motels to instead stay at backpackers facilities.

The experience is so popular the world's largest hotel group is venturing into the market.

It is the fastest growing accommodation sector in New Zealand and the largest hotel group in the world - the French hotel company Accor - is joining in.

According to latest Tourism New Zealand figures around 11% of all visitors are choosing to stay in backpackers.

Accor owns brands such as Novotel and Ibis and its first foray into backpacking will be New Zealand and a 435 bed hostel in central Auckland.

"The number of backpackers coming through here is quite large for the population base and we believe that New Zealand's a great test case," spokesman Neil Scanlan said.

The new competitor is being welcomed by the New Zealand Youth Hostel Association.

"The global market is probably ready for another player alongside Hostelling International to keep us all competitive," David Beattie from YHA New Zealand said.

Price has always been one of the main attractions of backpackers but it is not just a cheap bed backpackers are after.

Scanlan says they are after three main things - safety, cleanliness and social aspects.