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NZ joins worldwide trend in visitor spending

NEWS RELEASE

NZ joins worldwide trend in international visitor spending

Spending not keeping pace with visitor growth

Auckland, 21 September 2005 - Strong growth in tourist arrivals and spending in New Zealand is being offset by a worldwide trend in a decline in average visitor spending according to new research from Visa International.

Visa International's Trends in International Visitor Spending in New Zealand, released today, shows 2004 was a strong year for New Zealand tourism with a 10.7 per cent increase in visitors, who spent a massive $6.6 billion during that time.

Key findings include:

* International Visa cardholders spent $2.1 billion last year, representing 31.8 per cent of the total spend by inbound visitors.

* The number of transactions by international VISA cardholders has doubled in the past five years to 13.5 million in 2004 from 6.4 million in 1999.

* Of all international visitors, tourists from the United Kingdom spent the most in New Zealand in 2004, using their Visa cards - a whopping $571.4 million.

* A total of $1.6 billion was spent through Visa cards on eight key broad categories, and this represented 75.1 per cent of all Visa spend by visitors in New Zealand. Transport and general retail and trade took up the lion's share of the $1.6 billion. Visitors spent $NZ427.9 million on transport through VISA, $NZ 407.3 million on general retail and trade, and $NZ243.9 million on accommodation.

"Globally, tourism suffered as a result of September 11 but our research shows that in 2004 New Zealand enjoyed a healthy increase in visitor numbers reflecting a renewed confidence in travel. Last year, 2.3 million travelers hit our shores and spent six per cent more than in 2003" says Visa's New Zealand Country Manager, Iain Jamieson.

"While these expenditure figures show a major rise, when they are viewed over five years and inflation and the appreciation of the New Zealand dollar is taken into account, the average spending by tourists to New Zealand has actually declined.

"This research shows that Visa is an increasingly important channel in delivering tourism revenues, with more than 30 per cent of total tourist spending here last year made with Visa cards.

"For local businesses seeking to attract inbound travelers, and for the industry as a whole, we hope these insights will help strengthen their competitive position in attracting tourists and encouraging greater spending," Mr. Jamieson said.

Industry analyst John King from Global Leisure & Tourism said: "While there has been a considerable recovery in numbers of people travelling, a disturbing world wide trend is that in many cases tourism revenue has declined in real terms, or where tourism revenue has increased, spend per visitor has declined.

"The situation for New Zealand has been further exacerbated in recent years as the New Zealand dollar has appreciated against the US dollar and the currencies of other important inbound markets," Mr King said.

Visa's comprehensive research provides the tourism and travel industry and businesses with valuable information on how and what Visa cardholders from key markets spent last year.

Highlights from Trends in International Visitor Spending in New Zealand include:

* In 2004, there were 2.3 million international visitors to New Zealand, compared with 2.1 million in 2003, representing healthy growth of 10.7 percent over the year and a 45 percent increase in visitor numbers since 1999.

* Spending by international visitors totalled NZ$6.6 billion in 2004 compared with NZ$6.2 billion in 2003. Visitor expenditure in 2004 was 6.2 percent above that for 2003 and 45 percent above that for 1999.

* Without accounting for inflation, total visitor expenditure has kept pace with the growth in visitor arrivals and has remained appreciably ahead of the rate of inflation for that period.

* A major factor in providing downward pressure on average spends per visitor has been the appreciation of the New Zealand dollar over recent years. For example, since 2001, it has increased in value against the US dollar by 36.5 percent.

* The amount spent in 2004 by international VISA cardholders was NZ$2.1 billion, representing 31.8 per cent of the total spend by inbound visitors.

* In 2004, three quarters of the amount spent by international VISA cardholders in New Zealand in 2004 was spent on eight broad spend categories. Transport was the major item (25.8 percent), followed by general retail and trade (21.7 percent), and accommodation (15.4 percent).

Copies of Trends in International Visitor Spending in New Zealand are available on Visa International's website: www.visa.co.nz

About Visa: Visa is the world's leading payment brand generating more than US$3 trillion in annual card sales volume. Visa has unsurpassed acceptance in more than 150 countries. The Visa organization plays a pivotal role in developing innovative payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa is a leader in Internet based payments and is pioneering the creation of u-commerce, or universal commerce-the ability to conduct commerce anywhere, anytime, and any way. For more information, visit http://www.corporate.visa.com/.

Visa Asia Pacific

In Asia Pacific, Visa has a greater market share than all other payment card brands combined with 62 percent of all card purchases at the point of sale being made using Visa cards. There are currently 238 million Visa-branded cards in the region. In 2004, US$475 billion was spent at point of sale or withdrawn from ATMs in Asia Pacific using Visa cards. Visa Asia Pacific's Internet address is http://www.visa-asia.com/


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