New Zealand tourism down 6.5 percent


Disruptive events such as the Christchurch earthquake and Chilean ash cloud have not caused as large a fall in tourism spending as might have been feared, the Ministry of Economic Development says.

Spending by international visitors dropped by 6.5 per cent to $5.6 billion in the year to June, says the International Visitors Survey, the first to fully cover the Christchurch quakes and the Chilean volcano ash cloud.

Ministry of Economic Development tourism research and evaluation manager Peter Ellis said the drop in spending was consistent with the previous survey, which covered the year to March.

Spending by Japanese, British and United States tourists dropped by 24.4 per cent, 18.4 per cent and 13.9 per cent respectively.

However, spending by Chinese and South Korean tourists rose 12.4 per cent and 11.5 per cent respectively.

”Spending by international tourists has been dropping for over a year even though the number arriving remains pretty constant. One significant reason tourists are spending less per visit still appears to be the extremely high New Zealand dollar in relation to currencies other than the Australian dollar,” Ellis said.

”The Christchurch earthquakes and the flight-schedule havoc caused by the Chilean volcano haven’t damaged tourism as much as feared.

”These adverse events had their main impact during what is always the low tourism season. On an annual basis, the arrivals have held up and spending hasn’t collapsed.”

Spending by Australians, the country’s biggest market, dropped by almost 6 per cent as holidaymakers made use of their strong dollar in other markets.

The number of Australians visiting New Zealand to see friends and relatives is increasing, while the higher-spending holidaymakers are decreasing in number and spent 11 per cent less than in the previous year.

Spending by South Korean and Chinese tourists continued to increase. South Koreans account for 4 per cent of international tourist expenditure in New Zealand, and Chinese for 7 per cent.