January visitor numbers fall for first time in five years

Overseas visitors to New Zealand in January have fallen for the first time in five years, according to Stats NZ’s latest international travel and migration figures.

Total overseas visitor arrivals numbered 379,200 for the month, down by 1,800 from January last year. The drop has been attributed mainly to a fall in visitors from China, said Stats NZ.

Chinese New Year, a peak holiday travel season, was in late January in 2017, but in mid-February in 2018, which likely influenced the timing of monthly arrivals from China to New Zealand.

“In January 2018, the overall fall in visitor arrivals was driven by a 31% drop in visitors from China. The number fell from more than 54,100 in January 2017 to 37,300 this year,” said Stats NZ’s population insights senior manager, Peter Dolan.

“However, rolling weekly provisional figures show arrivals from China are picking up in February 2018, as expected, with the start of the Year of the Dog.”

Arrivals from China were also tracking down over the 12 months to January 2018, which dropped 5%, or 21,200, to 401,056 compared to the previous year.

Stats NZ said the drop in visitors from China in January was mainly offset by increased numbers from most other countries, including the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

The biggest changes for the month among NZ’s major source markets were in arrivals from the United States, which rose 11% to 38,080, and the United Kingdom, up 5.1% to 37,152. Australia arrivals grew 2.6% to 131,072, making it the largest source market.

Over the 12 months to January 2018, visitor arrivals numbered 3.73m, up 5% on the preceding year.

New Zealand residents set a new annual record of 2.87 million overseas trips in the January 2018 year, up 9% from the January 2017 year, said Stats NZ.

The number of trips made to most countries increased over the 12 month period, the largest being:

  • Australia – up 4% to 1.23 million
  • Fiji – up 13% to 179,760
  • China – up 15% to 118,780
  • United Kingdom – up 12% to 123,440
  • India – up 14% to 73,520

For the month of January 2018, New Zealand residents made 173,700 trips overseas, up 5% on the same month last year. Australia was the main destination, up 4.7% to 77,440 on January 2017.

In the year to January 2018, 70,100 more migrants arrived in New Zealand than left, down 1,200 from the preceding 12 months, said Stats NZ.

Annual net migration reached a record high of 72,400 in the July 2017 year.

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