WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The government credited New Zealand’s reputation for having a pristine environment for the nearly 5 percent rise in tourism revenue for the year through March 2007 reaching a record of more than $15 billion.
The tourism sector was responsible for 9.2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product in the year, according to a government-funded Statistics New Zealand report. The industry supports 9.7 percent of New Zealand’s total work force, the equivalent of 181,000 full-time jobs.
Spending by both domestic and international tourists rose 4.7 percent to $15.3 billion in the year that ended March 31, 2007.
A nation of 4 million people, New Zealand is known for its rugged mountains and wilderness areas made famous by Hollywood’s “Lord of the Rings” movies.
International tourism contributed $6.7 billion to total New Zealand exports, and domestic tourism expenditure was $8.6 billion, the agency said. International visitors increased 2.8 percent to 2.5 million in the year to March 2007, following a decrease of 0.4 percent in the previous year that ended March 2006.
New Zealand’s ability to compete internationally depends on “ensuring we are environmentally, economically, socially and culturally sustainable,” said Tourism Minister Damien O’Connor in a statement.
“Doing what we can to protect our environment will also reward us financially, ensuring the economic sustainability of the tourism industry and New Zealand as a whole,” he concluded.