International visitors spent a record $10.6bn in New Zealand in the year to December 2017, up 5% on 2016, according to the latest International Visitor Survey from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
The growth was driven by a 6.7% increase in visitors to New Zealand to a record 3.73 million last year with the US market performing strongly in terms of arrivals and spending.
“An increase in visitors from the United States has resulted in an 18% rise in spending from this market to $1.3bn,” said MBIE’s manager of sector trends, Mark Gordon. “Over the last year, there has been growing competition in the New Zealand to US air routes, with increased capacity for the summer season.”
American Airlines and United Airlines increased their capacity for the summer season, with strong demand continuing in Air New Zealand’s direct flights between Auckland and Houston, said MBIE.
Australian visitors remained the largest international market spending $2.6bn over the period, followed by Chinese visitors who spent $1.5bn.
However, average visitor spending dropped slightly from 2016’s $3230 to $3190 in 2017.
“While international visitor arrivals continue to climb (up 7% over the year to December 2017), average spend per visitor has been steady,” said Gordon.
“This is partly due to the value of the New Zealand dollar being relatively unchanged over this period. In the past, we have seen that exchange rates do make a difference to how much international visitors are spending in New Zealand.”
The average spend from German visitors fell sharply in 2017 to $5,100, down 19% compared to 2016. This was partly due to the average length of stay falling from 52 days in 2016 to 47.5 days in 2017, said MBIE.
German visitor arrivals increased to 104,864 last year, up 8.3% on 2016, according to Stats NZ’s visitor arrivals data for 2017.
Tourism minister Kelvin Davis said the growth in visitor numbers to New Zealand was presenting challenges for the country.
“I also know that these challenges are not unsolvable, and there is plenty of work going on to ensure the sustainability of the industry,” he said.
“Government is focused on managing growing visitor numbers – implementing educational campaigns for visiting drivers, developing new Great Walks, only promoting New Zealand outside the peak summer season, and so on.
“I recently announced over $14m for tourism infrastructure and I’ll be meeting with mayors in the next couple of weeks to seek a collaborative way forward on freedom camping.”
Click here for more information on the International Visitor Survey.