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NZ migration, tourism continue to boom in July

Friday 19 August 2016 12:03 PM

NZ migration, tourism continue to boom in July, could be nearing peak

By Sophie Boot

Aug. 19 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's booming migration and tourism arrivals set a new record for July this year, driven by an influx of Chinese and Australian, though economists say the net migration trend may be close to a peak.

Annual net migration reached 69,000 in July, down slightly on June which had an annual net gain of 69,100 but setting a new record for the month with a 16 percent gain on July 2015. The fall from June snaps a 23-month run of record-breaking annual net gains in migrants, Statistics NZ said. The increase compared to last July was driven by more migrants from China, South Africa and Australia.

At the same time, overseas short-term visitor arrivals reached 3.34 million in the year ended July 30, up 11 percent on the year earlier.

A swelling population stoking more activity and record inflows of tourists have helped offset the impact of a rural sector reeling from weak dairy prices. At the same time, a rising population has posed problems for policymakers by fuelling demand for an already-stretched housing market in Auckland, while restraining wage growth. The nation's per-capita growth has been anaemic.

Today's data show the inflow of net migration fell slightly with the seasonally adjusted monthly gain at 5,600, down from a peak of 6,200 in November last year and below the average 5,700 per month since then.

The Treasury said in the Budget that it expected annual net migration would peak in June at 70,700, before returning to the long-run average of 12,000 by June 2019.

"Net migration is continuing to run around record levels, but there is some further evidence net migration could be close to peaking, with departures elevated," ASB Bank economist Daniel Snowden said in a note. "We expect inflows from Australia to slow as the Australian labour market continues its recovery. However, some of that slack is being taken up by students from China and India (a significant and growing number of which are choosing to stay).

"This migration boom has been providing support to the NZ economy via increased demand for goods and services, but has also placed strain on NZ’s already tight housing market, a point made by the RBNZ several times recently," Snowden said. "Net migration has also contributed to strong labour supply and subdued wage inflation pressures, despite declining unemployment."

Of those new migrants who arrived in the year, a net 31,951, or 46 percent, settled in Auckland, followed by a net 9.9 percent moving to Canterbury, net 4.7 percent going to Wellington and net 3.6 percent settling in Waikato.

Most holidaymakers came from Australia, with 52,384 Australians travelling to New Zealand in the month. On an annual basis, Australians made up 542,208 of the 1.7 million holidaymakers, while China was the second-biggest pool at 310,864. Business visitors rose 5.7 percent in July from a year earlier to 22,208, and increased 3.9 percent on an annual basis to 271,968, two-thirds of whom came from across the Tasman.

Indian holidaymakers, a market Tourism New Zealand wants to grow in an effort to bridge the nation's shoulder season, rose 52 percent to 512 in the month of July and were up 24 percent to 24,752 in the year.


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