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International visitor spend up 3% to $6.5 billion

Media Statement

International visitor spend up 3% to $6.5 billion

2 May 2006 11:00am

Spending by international visitors to New Zealand has increased to $6.5 billion in the year to December 2005, up 3% on the previous year, according to data just released by the Ministry of Tourism.

Ministry of Tourism Research Manager, Bruce Bassett, said that spending associated with the Lions Tour was a key factor in a travel environment that was otherwise reasonably stable.

“The Lions Tour definitely gave New Zealand a boost. We saw spending from United Kingdom visitors increase by 17%, taking it over the $1 billion mark. Spending by travellers associated with the Lions Tour was estimated to be $96 million,” says Mr Bassett.

Another notable feature was the decline of the education sector, that dropped by 39% to $438 million. This performance in turn drove declines in spending by our Asian markets which decreased by 19% overall to $1.6 billion. For Asian markets, the share of spending contributed by education has fallen from 31% of total Asian spend in 2003 to 15% in 2005.

Holiday visitor expenditure rose 9% to $3.3 billion in 2005, providing 51% of all international visitor spend in New Zealand. VFR dropped 3% to $1.2 billion and business increased 1% to $815 million.

New Zealand’s top ten markets generated 73% of the total visitor spend in 2005. The key markets are Australia (up 4% to $1.5 billion), the United Kingdom (up 17% to $1.0 billion), the United States (down 2% to $597 million), Japan (down 21% to $512 million), China (down 33% to $274 million) and Korea (down 16% to $275 million).

“Overall, the New Zealand tourism industry performed well over 2005 with the Lions Tour offsetting the soft education sector that affected our Asian markets’ spending levels. Leisure sector activity (holiday and VFR) was positive in 2005, up 5.4% to $4.5 billion, and in many respects this provides the best indication of tourism sector performance for the year,” says Mr Bassett.

For further information on the release of International Visitor Survey data please visit the Tourism Research Council New Zealand website (


Survey support information (PDF)

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