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New Zealand Tourism

New Zealand tourism gets boost from Australians, Chinese

Feb 04, 2011

Tourist numbers hit a record high in December, buoyed by an ongoing influx of Australian and Chinese visitors.

Visitor arrivals rose 1.3% to 345,700 in December from the same month a year earlier, a record high number of arrivals for any month, according to Statistics New Zealand.

The number of Australians jumping across the Tasman rose 3% to 151,400, while Chinese tourists gained 21% to 14,200 in December.

British visitors sank 9.1% to 36,000, and American tourists dropped 8.3% to 24,200.

"While the high New Zealand dollar is bound to be playing some role in the weakness from 'traditional' Northern Hemisphere source countries, we also suspect that timing effects associated with the Rugby World Cup (RWC) could be an influence," said Philip Borkin, economist at Goldman Sachs & Partners.

"There could be some 'demand-shifting' occurring with visitors delaying the timing of their travel to New Zealand to coincide with the RWC."

New Zealand tourism has benefited from a return of Asian visitors after swine flu sapped their appetite to travel in 2009.

National carrier Air New Zealand Ltd. lifted its passenger numbers by almost 10% in December, and has been trying to woo Australian and Chinese travellers in joint marketing ventures with the government.

Net migration stayed positive, with 800 more people entering the country than leaving in December.

Still, at 10,500, the net positive inflow of migrants is less than half the 21,300 in 2009, as the number of New Zealanders leaving for Australia exceeded trans-Tasman arrivals by 21,000.

Jane Turner, economist at ASB, said Australia's labour market is relatively attractive, and will "underpin departures out of New Zealand."

"The low level of migration contributes to slowing population growth, reducing demand for new housing construction," she said. "Indeed, the recent weakness in net migration is likely to be a key driver of low building consent issuance to date."

In December, local building consents fell to the lowest level since April 2009 as the residential property sector spent most of last year in the doldrums amid a lack of appetite from new buyers.

New Zealand tourism gets boost from Australians, Chinese
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