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Chinese Tourists Offset Decline In International Spending

Media Release

Chinese Tourists Offset Decline In International Spending

New Visa data shows decline in tourist spending after the Rugby World Cup but China visitors buck the trend

Auckland, 17 March 2013 – Visitors from China helped offset a decline in international spend in New Zealand in the year after the Rugby World Cup, with Chinese Visa account holders spending nearly a third more here in 2012 compared to 2011.

VisaVue® Travel data shows China moved from seventh to sixth spot in the list of top 10 inbound source countries, increasing spend from $53.6 million in 2011 to $70.6 million in 2012 and swiping or dipping their Visa cards here 305,930 times (up 36.5 per cent on the previous year).

Caroline Ada, Visa country manager for New Zealand and South Pacific, says this growth mirrors the increase in visitor arrivals from China that the New Zealand tourism industry has been reporting and builds on an exceptional 2011 year, which saw total spend from Chinese Visa account holders increasing by 56.4 per cent in 2010[1].

“The increase in spend by Chinese tourists, and indeed the number of tourists themselves, shows activity by Tourism New Zealand and other tourism organisations is paying dividends. The significant growth in the number of tourists from China choosing to visit New Zealand has resulted in it becoming our second largest inbound market ahead of the United Kingdom,” she says.

Visa’s data shows the top ten source markets in 2012 for spending were Australia, United Kingdom, United States, Germany, France, China, Canada, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. These 10 countries alone accounted for 81.3 per cent of total inbound Visa card spend.

Tourism New Zealand’s Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says the results reinforce again the importance of the China market.

“When it comes to China today, the story is consistently one of growth – growth in arrivals overall but also in the Free and Independent Traveller (FIT), and a continued growth in expenditure and value.
“There is even more potential here for the industry to capture which is why Tourism New Zealand’s focus is on growing the numbers of FIT and supporting the delivery of quality travel itineraries, through the Premier Kiwi Partnership programme being run with industry partners both in China and New Zealand.”

Overall, international Visa account holders spent less in New Zealand in 2012 with the total declining by 8.5 per cent to $1.85 billion compared to $2.02 billion in 2011 when New Zealand hosted the Rugby World Cup.

“These statistics reflect the decrease in tourist numbers last year and the strong New Zealand dollar. Tourist numbers were down from 2.6 million in 2011 to 2.5 million in 2012, a decrease that can be partially attributed to the Rugby World Cup. Visitors to New Zealand for the 2011 Rugby World Cup spent about $390 million in total, indicating the impact the tournament had on tourism was stronger than earlier forecast[2],” says Ada.

Ada adds the flipside to this decline is the lift in New Zealanders spending on Visa cards of 1.4 per cent, with total outbound spend rising from $1.94 billion in 2011, to $1.97 billion in 2012.

“Our dollar is at an all-time high against some currencies, which can act as a deterrent for those planning to visit New Zealand. However, Kiwis are making the most of the opportunity to travel, spending more on Visa cards internationally and using their cards more frequently, with transactions growing by 5.5 per cent in the past year.”

Australia again topped the list as the destination of choice for Kiwis to spend their holiday dollars. This was followed by the United States, United Kingdom, Thailand and Fiji.

The tourism industry remains a significant contributor to New Zealand’s GDP, bringing a total of $6.2 billion into the country during the 2011/12 financial year, and creating 119,800 fulltime jobs[3].

To view the full report click here.
Note: All currency is in New Zealand (NZD) dollars. All Visa transaction data has been converted from USD to NZD based on average annual exchange rates advised by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ).

About Visa
Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable electronic payments. We operate one of the world’s most advanced processing networks—VisaNet—that is capable of handling more than 24,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and assured payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa’s innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit


[1] VisaVue Travel Data: 2010 – 2011
[2] Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment: Rugby World Cup

[3] Statistics New Zealand Tourism Satellite Account: 2012: October 2012

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