TRAVEL GAZETTE – The total spending by international travellers to New Zealand soar by 31 percent to 9.7 billion NZ dollars (6.56 billion U.S. dollars) last year, largely thanks to a surge in spending by Chinese visitors, according to government figures out Friday.
Spending by Chinese visitors rocketed by 63 percent to 1.67 billion NZ dollars (1.13 billion U.S. dollars) last year, according to the International Visitor Survey y the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
That compared to a rise of 40 percent in spending by visitors from the United States and 35 percent by those from the United Kingdom, MBIE sector trends manager Peter Ellis said.
Spending by visitors from Australia, New Zealand’s largest market, was up 19 percent to 2.44 billion NZ dollars (1.65 billion U.S. dollars).
“The main contributing factor is the continued increase in per person spend up 19 percent to 3,440 NZ dollars (2,327 U.S. dollars) which is returning to a level similar to that before the global financial crisis,” Ellis said in a statement.
“The price drop in international airfares may also be contributing to the increased spend per person as well as exchange rates, with the pound sterling, Chinese yuan and United States dollar all strengthening against the New Zealand dollar during the period.”
The figures showed the tourism sector’s focus on increasing both value and volume was working, Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett said.
“New Zealand has already celebrated a record three million visitors in 2015 and the industry is now our second-largest export earner,” Bennett said in a statement.
“More impressively, it’s now worth 10.6 billion NZ dollars (7.17 billion U.S. dollars), or nearly 5 percent of our GDP, and one in every eight people employed are now directly or indirectly related to tourism.”