Tough year for tourism saved by rugby
A tough 12 months for the tourism industry was saved by the one-off influx of Rugby World Cup visitors, according to latest figures from the International Visitors Survey.
Released today by the Ministry of Economic Development, the annual survey tracks the experience of international visitors and how much they spend while in New Zealand, covering the year ending March 2012.
A key finding compared to the year ending March 2011 was that the Korean and Japanese markets each recorded a decline in visitor spend, estimated to be 25 per cent or more.
The Ministry’s Tourism Research and Evaluation Manager Peter Ellis said this drop was largely due to the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, but also reflected challenges for those markets over a number of years.
“The survey also highlighted the continuing decline of the UK market due to economic reasons and changed travel patterns,” Mr Ellis said.
Overall, international visitors spent $5.6 billion in New Zealand in the 12 months to March 2012 (excluding international airfares). Total visitor spend showed no change in nominal terms despite international visitor arrivals increasing four percent in the same period.
“2011 Rugby World Cup visitors spent $390 million in total, of which around $280 million was estimated to be a net addition to tourism exports. This was a significant counter to the decreased total expenditure from other markets,” Mr Ellis said.
“However, today’s figures continue the significant decline in real tourist expenditure of the past seven years. This is mostly because of the increasing proportion of visitors who are relatively low-spending Australian residents, particularly those coming to New Zealand to visit friends and relatives. The continued rise in total spend by Chinese tourists is the main positive note from this survey,” he said.
Beautiful scenery, family, and people were the most commonly reported highlights of tourists’ visits.
The International Visitors Survey is based on interviews of 5,200 tourists per year departing from New Zealand airports.
For more information visit the International visitor survey section on our website.
Figure 1 – Total spend by visitors to New Zealand
Figure 2 – Highlights reported by visitors to New Zealand, year ending March 2012
Figure 3 – Key data year ending March 2012