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Backpacker Tourism Big Business In NZ

MEDIA RELEASE EMBARGOED UNTIL 5.00PM Friday 2 July 1999

New Zealand is reaping the benefits of a growing number of backpackers who demand quality, budget accommodation but spend up large on adventure activities, says Prime Minister Jenny Shipley.

"Recent information shows the backpacker business has experienced 15% growth in recent years.

"Tourists of all types bring success for New Zealand. Tourism continues to grow strongly. Visitor numbers are recovering well. Jobs and expansion are flowing as a result. Visitor numbers are up 10.4% from May 1998 to May 1999.

"It is something of an irony that despite Labour's six months of carping criticism, the industry continues to benefit from the efforts of Government, the Tourism Board and the tourism industry," said Mrs Shipley.

Today she opened the Youth Hostel Association of New Zealand's 56th hostel on Turner Street in central Auckland. The YHA has been a pioneer in quality low cost accommodation in New Zealand for over 60 years, and continues to keep up with the changing demands of independent travellers, she said.

"In the year to June 1998, 160,000 backpackers visited New Zealand generating over $316 million. They made up around 21 per cent of all holiday arrivals.

"While these travellers are looking for budget accommodation they have money to spend and are a growing market for New Zealand tourism. Over 46,000 travellers from the United Kingdom alone spent an average of $2,268 each when they visited New Zealand last year. They are selective but prepared to spend their money on quality adventures and experiences.

"Tourism continues to be New Zealand's largest earner. In 1995 visitors to our country generated over $9 billion of spending, and supported 118,000 jobs.

"Encouraging backpackers to choose New Zealand as a destination is one focus of our tourism effort. Once they arrive, having the quality low cost accommodation that backpackers demand is a challenge that I am pleased to see organisations like YHA are meeting.

"With quality hostels like the new Auckland International YHA, I am confident New Zealand can continue to be a priority destination for many more independent travellers," said Mrs Shipley.

ENDS

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