Accommodation providers experienced a slight boost in business in November, according to Statistics New Zealand figures.
Guest nights in short-term accommodation, at 2.7 million in November 2009, were an increase of 0.5% from the same month the year before, but a 4% decrease compared with November 2007.
Statistics New Zealand says the trend has been increasing in 2009, but has been flattening over recent months.
Tourism Industry Association chief executive Tim Cossar says accommodation providers are struggling in a very tough market, and it will take more than one month of higher room occupancy for them to recover from more than a year of very low visitor numbers.
The improvement is being explained partly by an increase in international visitors to the South Island.
International guest nights were up 2%, while domestic guest nights were down 1%.
Market remains quiet for hoteliers
Hoteliers are bracing themselves for another tight year, with room occupancy rates at all-time lows.
Despite the overall boost in guest nights, there were 22,000 fewer stays in hotels in November 2009 than a year earlier.
Hotel Council independent chair Jennie Langley says international visitor numbers have been significantly lower for the past year. People are also waiting until the last minute to book and find cheaper deals.
She says hoteliers have cut costs to make sure they can survive until things improve. Ms Langley does not expect any hotels to close, but says some may be forced to amalgamate.