Record spend from people visiting New Zealand boosts tourism

by Ray Clancy on February 18, 2017

People visiting New Zealand are spending more than ever in the country but they are being put off by recent earthquakes and avoiding the areas where they have hit the country.

Overall international visitor spending reached $10.1 billion in the year to December, up 5% from the same period in 2015, according to figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

New Zealand Plane‘Last year we welcomed 3.5 million visitors to our shores. Tourism is our biggest export market and is hugely important to our economy. It’s great to see that spending from international tourists remains strong,’ said Tourism Minister Paula Bennett.

The figures show that international visitors coming to New Zealand for a holiday spent the most for this period with a total spend of $6.4 billion, up 10% compared with the previous year. The strongest growth was South Korea with spending up 82% to $299 million.

‘It’s positive to see the industry still achieve a 4% increase in visitor spending after record growth in 2015. We want to maintain these numbers while still ensuring these tourists can have a great visitor experience,’ Bennett pointed out.

She explained that there is a range of work underway to support the tourism sector to attract the right mix of visitors around New Zealand’s regions, and ensuring visitors have a great time. This includes funding for regional infrastructure projects, an education campaign for visiting drivers, and ongoing work to assess options for meeting future infrastructure needs.

‘The earthquake last November had a limited overall impact nationwide on tourism expenditure. The effects of lower visitor numbers and spending was limited to the regions that suffered damage, especially Kaikoura. We are continuing to provide support to the North Canterbury region, such as the Employees Support Subsidy scheme and the restoration of the Kaikoura harbour and transport routes,’ she added.

Indeed, figures from Statistics New Zealand show that Kaikoura had a record 41% drop in guest nights at the district’s hotels, motels, backpackers and campgrounds in November.

Numbers were down in both Kaikoura and the nearby Hurunui district in November 2016 compared with the same month in 2015, due to the magnitude 7.8 earthquake in the middle of the month.

‘In Kaikoura, about half the accommodation providers we survey were closed for the second half of November, after the earthquake on 14 November cut access for the town,’ said Statistics New Zealand business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly.

‘Some establishments that stayed open hosted earthquake recovery workers. Of those that closed, some expected to reopen shortly, and some expected to remain closed for many months,’ he added.

Guest nights in Kaikoura were 17,000 for the month, compared with 30,000 in November 2015. In Hurunui district, which includes Hanmer Springs, guest nights were down 12% for November 2016, the largest fall in almost three years.

However, total guest nights for the Canterbury region were up 1.5% from November 2015, despite the falls in Kaikoura and Hurunui which are both are located in Canterbury.

Accommodation providers in Wellington may also have been affected by the earthquake and subsequent storm. Guest nights in the city were down 8% from November 2015, the largest fall in two years.

But these statistics for November 2016 only reflect half a month of earthquake disruption and a bigger picture will emerge when the December figures are published in March as they will include information about how many Kaikoura establishments were closed for the month.

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