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Decrease in international visitors’ spend recorded

Media release

19 February 2013

Decrease in international visitors’ spend recorded

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s quarterly International Visitor Survey, released today, shows a six per cent drop in spending by international visitors since 2011.

The Ministry’s Tourism Research and Evaluation Manager Peter Ellis says the year to December 2012 data shows that spending by international visitors is at its lowest since 2001.

“The drop in spending over the past year can be partly attributed to a 2 per cent drop in visitor numbers over the same period. The drop also reflects global economic conditions and the strong New Zealand dollar,” Mr Ellis says.

“2011 was a relatively good year for international tourism because of the Rugby World Cup, which overall outweighed the other challenges of that year. We’re now seeing a return to the decline in tourist spend that was occurring before the Cup.”

“The most significant aspects of the drop in spending are a decrease in UK visitors’ spend, and in the total amount that holiday visitors are spending.”

Mr Ellis says that the results from the quarterly survey are broadly consistent with the Ministry’s 2012 tourism forecasts. In 2012 the Ministry adopted a different forecasting methodology, commissioning NZIER to prepare forecasts using a best practice tourism forecasting model combining macro-economic and socio-demographic data.

“The International Visitor Survey results for the year ended December 2012 show that our forecasting was almost spot on for overall spend and for spend by Australian and Japanese visitors. Spend by visitors from the United Kingdom has decreased even faster than forecast.

“On the other hand, spend by Chinese visitors has increased by 42 per cent, exceeding our forecasts” Mr Ellis says.

China has been confirmed as New Zealand’s second largest tourist market.

Further details are available in the attached table, which indicates statistically significant changes in bold font. For example, the apparent increase in estimated Japanese spend per visit was within the survey’s margin of error for that subset of the data.

The International Visitor Survey is based on interviews of 5,200 tourists per year departing from New Zealand airports.

The survey results and information about the survey can be read online at


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