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Rugby scores for tourism as Asia declines


Rugby scores for tourism as Asia declines


Auckland, Monday 12 June 2006 – New Zealand’s position was cemented at the top of the international rugby world last year, but our national game also proved a vital boost for the country’s inbound tourism spend which has shown signs of softening, according to a new report from Visa International.

The British Lions’ Tour proved a whitewash for New Zealand both on and off the field, being the catalyst for a six per cent increase in spend (to $NZ605.4 million) in New Zealand by British and Irish Visa cardholders.

This was against a 39% decline in overall spending by key Asian and American visitors, which has been attributed to factors such as avian bird flu, terrorism risks, rising fuel prices, the high New Zealand dollar and the Asian tsunami.

“Big events can sometimes put travellers off visiting, so it is possible that the numbers would still have been up without the Lion’s Tour, but probably not as high as they went,” says Iain Jamieson, Visa International’s New Zealand Country Manager.

Released to coincide with the Tourism Industry Association’s tradeshow, TRENZ, the Visa tourism report shows:

Overall

· Tourism visitor numbers totalled 2.4 million last year, an overall increase of 1.3 per cent, but the smallest increase since 1999.

· Total international spend was up by three per cent overall in a year, to $6.5 billion.

· There has been a decline in arrivals and spending from previously strong Asian markets and a continuing fall from the US market.

· Total Japanese spending has fallen by 30 per cent since its peak in 2000.

· The previously rapidly growing Chinese market has dropped 35 per cent since 2003.

· The average spend per visitor climbed by 50 per cent from US$424 in 2002 to $US637 in 2005. But when that is expressed in New Zealand dollars the average spend per visitor dropped from NZ$916 in 2002 to NZ$904 in 2005, a drop of 1.3 percent. This shows the impact of currency shifts on inbound spend figures.

Lions’ Tour

· An additional 20,400 international visitors were generated by the Lions tour - the equivalent of 88 per cent of the total increase in visitors to New Zealand in 2005.

· During the two months the Lions toured here, UK tourists spent double ($47 million) what they did for the same period in 2004.

· The success of the tour lifted spending by UK visitors to New Zealand over the $1 billion mark for the first time.


Types of spending

· Transport recorded the biggest increase in actual expenditure, rising from NZ$427.9 million in 2004 to NZ$444.9 million in 2005.

· Spending on government, legal and social services was the fastest growing sector (+12.3 per cent) followed by professional and commercial services (+12.2 per cent) and health care (+5.7 per cent).

· The categories showing the greatest decline were general retail trade (-3.7 per cent) and education (-2 per cent).


Visa Card holder spending habits

· International visitors’ Visa cardholder spending has increased by two per cent in New Zealand to $2.1 billion.

· Visa accounted for 32 per cent of all visitor spending in 2005.

· International visitors made 13.7 million Visa card transactions in 2005, more than double the number five years ago.

· Spending using Visa cards has grown at a faster rate than total visitor spending over the past six years. Visa spending has grown 121 per cent between 1999 and 2005 compared with 67 per cent growth in overall spending.

· The top five spenders on Visa cards in 2005 were:

o UK (NZ$605.4 million),
o Australia (NZ$493.5 million),
o US (NZ$334.4 million),
o Japan (NZ$75.9 million)
o South Korea (NZ$68.3 million).


The Visa tourism spend report is designed to provide the tourism industry with additional insights to help New Zealand strengthen its competitive position in attracting tourists and encouraging them to spend more.

Visa’s latest report analyses spending by visitors in New Zealand from 1999 to 2005. In 2005 Visa cardholders accounted for a third of all spending by overseas visitors in New Zealand.

Ends

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