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International visitor spend to surpass $15b annually by 2023

Media Release

12 May 2017

International visitor spend to surpass $15b annually by 2023

Strong growth in international visitor numbers and spending is forecast for New Zealand’s tourism sector, with international visitors projected to spend $15.3 billion annually by 2023, according to forecasts released today by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

MBIE’s General Manager of Evidence, Monitoring and Governance Michael Bird says the New Zealand Tourism Forecasts 2017-2023 show that the tourism sector in New Zealand will grow steadily over the next seven years.

“The forecasts show that growth will be driven by Asian markets, particularly China, as well as established markets such as the United States and the United Kingdom,” Mr Bird says.

“International visitor spending is forecast to exceed $15 billion a year by 2023, up 52 per cent from visitor spending of $10 billion a year in 2016. This equates to a solid growth rate of over 6 per cent per annum.Growth in visitor numbers is expected to be the main contributor to growth in overall international spend, with increasing spend per visitor also playing a significant role.

“International visitor arrivals to New Zealand are forecast to reach 4.9 million a year by 2023, up 39 per cent from the 3.5 million visitors who came to our shores in 2016,” Mr Bird says.

Another key finding from the forecasts is the importance of China to New Zealand’s tourism industry, expected to become Zealand's largest tourism market by spend during the forecast period.

“Spending from Chinese visitors will reach $4.3 billion annually by 2023, with visitor numbers expected to reach just under one million per year by the end of the forecast period. China is expected to contribute to 37 per cent of total international visitor growth from 2016 to 2023, and 51 per cent of total visitor spending.

“The amount visitors spend per day is expected to grow by 9 per cent over the forecast period. For our second largest market, China, this figure is 17 per cent.

“Australia is New Zealand’s largest visitor market, and is forecast to remain so over the forecast period. We forecast that this market will contribute 1.8 million annual visitors to New Zealand by 2023, up 25 per cent from 2016,” Mr Bird says.

The forecasts were developed by MBIE with input from members of the tourism industry. The forecasts presented are averages of a range of modelled outcomes; the actual values in the future are likely to deviate from the averages.

The interactive web tool for users to explore the forecast results for key markets is available on MBIE’s website:

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