International visitor arrivals were up 9,100 to 246,900 for July 2017 compared to the same month last year, says Stats NZ.
Australia, China and the United Kingdom all recorded increases with Indonesia and the United States reporting reductions, according to the International travel and migration statistics for July 2017.
However, the number of overseas trips made by Kiwis each year has almost quadrupled since 1988 to reach nearly 2.8 million.
“Except for the small dip in 2009, likely due to the global recession, Kiwis’ overseas trips have been on the rise since 2003,” population statistics senior manager at Stats NZ, Peter Dolan, said.
The latest figures showed New Zealand residents made a record 302,400 overseas trips for the month, 9% more than in July 2016. More trips to Australia, China, and the United Kingdom were the biggest changes.
In the July 2017 year, New Zealand residents took a record 2.8 million overseas trips. This increase of 279,400 trips from 2016 was mostly due to more residents departing for Australia, the United States, and China.
Overseas trips to China and the UK
Trips to China (excluding Hong Kong) reached 111,200 in the July 2017 year, up 20 percent from the July 2016 year and more than double the number in the July 2007 year. By comparison, New Zealand residents took 117,200 trips to the United Kingdom in the July 2017 year, a 2 percent increase from the previous year and 26 percent higher than in the July 2007 year. If the current rate of increase of trips to China and the United Kingdom continues, it is likely that more New Zealand residents will travel to China than the United Kingdom next year.
“The strong increase in New Zealand-resident departures to China since 2007 coincided with the rise in the goods trade with China, which almost tripled in the last decade,” Mr Dolan said.
The 2008 free trade agreement between New Zealand and China outlined incremental tariff removal on New Zealand exports to China. This allowed for freer trade and improved visa processing for New Zealand business people entering China. China is now New Zealand’s largest trading partner for both goods exports and imports. See Trade with China tripled in past decade for more details.
The Chinese ethnic population living in New Zealand grew from 148,000 in the 2006 Census to 171,000 in the 2013 Census. In the last decade, the number of trips to China to visit friends and relatives increased by 33,600, up 155 percent between the July 2007 and July 2017 years.
Kiwi holidaymakers are also making more trips to China, with numbers up 13,200 (85 percent) in the last 10 years.
Favourite travel destinations
In the last 30 years Australia has been the favourite overseas destination of Kiwis, based on travellers who specified their main travel destination. Overseas trips to Australia numbered 1.2 million in the July 2017 year, accounting for almost 44 percent of all overseas departures, compared with 50 percent in 2007 and 54 percent in 1997.
The top five main overseas destinations (excluding Australia) are the same in 2017 as 10 years ago. However, the contribution of each individual country to the total overseas departures as well as the level of increase in departures for each country is very different. The number of New Zealand-resident departures to the United States, China, and the Cook Islands more than doubled in the last 10 years. Fiji and the United Kingdom still remain in the top five, with the number of departures increasing by 63 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
New Zealand residents made more trips to Europe (excluding the UK) as a main destination in the last 10 years, up 57 percent to 116,200 in the year ended July 2017.
See also International Travel and Migration: July 2017 – for more data and analysis.