Towns and cities up and down the country should be prepping for a busy summer season, as officials’ numbers released today highlight the continued growth in international visitors, Tourism and Immigration Ministers Stuart Nash and Michael Wood announced today (Nov 15).
Overseas visitor numbers for the month of September showed a significant uptick, while a decline in the net migration loss shows more people are choosing to stay in New Zealand. This is consistent with migration patterns between 2002 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, where New Zealand had an annual net loss of New Zealand citizens and an annual net gain of non-New Zealand citizens.
“This is positive news for the strength of the New Zealand economy as the tourism sector is such an important contributor. Before COVID-19, tourism was New Zealand’s largest export industry and delivered $40.9 billion to the country. Tourism also made a significant positive impact on regional economies supporting employment by directly employing 8.4 percent (229,566 people) of the New Zealand workforce,” Stuart Nash said.
“I’ve said many times that this summer is going to be a bumper one for our tourism sector with international arrivals spending big across the whole of New Zealand. Tourism electronic card transactions (TECT) in September 2022 have increased overall compared to pre-COVID September 2019 levels with the monthly domestic TECT spending up 24% compared with September 2019 and International TECT spending up 2% in the same period.
“We are also seeing the economic benefits of our Australian neighbors enjoying all that New Zealand has to offer. Monthly TECT spending from Australian cardholders was at 96% of pre-COVID September 2019 levels.
“We mustn’t forget that our local tourists are still traveling domestically and supporting our tourism sector. Nationwide monthly domestic TECT spending in ‘cultural, recreation, and gambling services’ showed the greatest increase of all the tourism-characteristic products. It’s already up 30% compared to 2019.
“We supported the sector through the tough times with the $400m Tourism Recovery Package, the $200m Tourism Communities Plan, and the $54m Innovation Programme for Tourism Recovery. Now it’s time to welcome our international visitors to our world-class tourist destinations and look forward to a bright future for our tourism sector,” Stuart Nash said.
Immigration figures also highlighted that more visitors are choosing to come to New Zealand.
“Over 17,000 working holiday visitors have now arrived in the country, out of the 36,000 approved since March, providing much need labor during a time of global shortage,” Michael Wood said.
“Since the beginning of November, we have seen weekly arrivals of over 1,200 visa holders. Monthly arrivals have built, from 1000 in July to over 4000 in October.
“Our government recognizes the crucial part working holiday visa holders play in the New Zealand economy. We need their skills here to meet demand in industries like tourism, hospitality, agriculture, and horticulture.
“To support kiwi businesses we have doubled the Working Holiday Scheme caps with a one-off increase to recognize the spots that were unused last year due to the border restrictions. Take-up for the new spots has been swift with many schemes filling up only hours after opening.
“The quick and positive response we are getting from visa holders and those who are applying for visas show that people want to come here,” Michael Wood said.