By Paul McBeth
June 12 (BusinessDesk) - The close proximity of the Easter and Anzac Day holidays boosted the number of Australian visitors in April, underpinning an 8.3 percent increase in international arrivals that month.
About 307,000 visitors arrived in New Zealand in April, up from 284,000 a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand figures show. There were 131,000 Australian visitors that month, 19 percent higher than a year earlier, or almost 21,000 more people. That more than made up for a 9,900 drop in Chinese arrivals to about 36,600.
"Trans-Tasman travel was lifted by the timing of Easter this year, which fell in the school holidays and close to Anzac Day," population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said in a statement. "This made it an attractive option for many holidaymakers, but particularly those visiting family and friends."
Islam said Chinese arrivals in the year-earlier period had been buoyed by an Amway incentive scheme that added an extra 6,000 visitors.
"Even taking these numbers into account, visitor numbers from China were still lower than 2017."
Record tourist numbers have been a major plank supporting New Zealand's robust economic expansion in recent years, although there have been signs of that moderating with fewer Chinese arrivals. Dominant domestic airline Air New Zealand is also dialling back its predicted passenger growth.
Today's data show annual visitor numbers were up 2.6 percent at 3.89 million, ending a five-year run of 100,000-plus increases for the April year. Australians made up the biggest source of international visitors at 1.51 million for the year through April, up 2.5 percent, while China remains in second spot at 424,000, down 4.6 percent.
Americans were the third-biggest source for tourists with 364,000 arrivals in the year, up 7.8 percent, while the UK was in fourth at 234,000, down 7 percent.
Tourists will face a $35 levy from July, with the funds earmarked for conservation, infrastructure and systems. Australian and many Pacific citizens will be excluded from the levy, which is predicted to bring in $80 million in 2020, and to grow by 4 percent a year.
Stats NZ also released its provisional migration numbers for April, which showed a net 2,500 people migrated to New Zealand that month, up from a net 1,700 a year earlier. That took the provisional annual net migration figure to 55,800 in April from 50,200 a year earlier.
The provisional 12-month figure may be adjusted higher or lower by about 1,600, the agency said.
The latest figures are subject to large revisions for the next four to five months. Stats NZ formally changed the way it measures migration in November when it stopped using arrival and departure cards travellers used to have to complete.
It said the card-based data hadn’t been accurate because it only captured travellers’ intentions and not what actually happened.
"Since late 2014, annual net migration has ranged between 48,000 and 64,000," Islam said. "The only previous time net migration was at these levels was for a short period in the early 2000s."
The net migration inflow for March was revised to 3,925 from an earlier estimate of 4,500, while the annual figure was lowered to 55,100 from an initial estimate of 56,100.