High NZ dollar sees record number of kiwis travel, visitor numbers fall
By Jason Krupp
Aug. 19 (BusinessDesk) - The strength of the New Zealand dollar saw a record number of kiwis pack their bags and head on overseas trips in July, while the high currency crimped the number of inbound visitors.
The number of kiwis heading on an overseas trip rose to a record of 231,600 in July, up from 207,992 in the same month last year, according to Statistics New Zealand.
The New Zealand dollar rose to 88.15 U.S. cents in the month, near the highest level since the currency was floated 16 years ago, giving kiwis more buying power overseas and making the nation a relatively more expensive travel destination. This time last year the kiwi traded at 72.70 U.S. cents.
Later-than-usual school holidays and postponed trips due to ash cloud disruptions in June also played a factor, the department said.
The kiwi dollar however cut both ways, with visitor arrivals falling 4% to 176,084 in the month compared the July last year, the department said. The decline was eased by the arrival of 1,200 tourists who came in anticipation of the Rugby World Cup. Visitors from China were the only category in the month to see an increase.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, there was a net loss of 200 permanent and long-term migrants in July, as Christchurch residents continued to head overseas in the wake of the March earthquake. Unadjusted figures showed 800 Christchurch residents left to live overseas in the month, up from 500 at the same time last year.
In July, the net outflow of migrants to Australia was 3,200, the highest recorded for a July month, according to the department. The previous high for a July month was a net outflow of 2,900 in 1979.
In the year ended July 2011, New Zealand had a net migration gain of 2,900, down from 15,200 the previous year. The latest figure is below the average annual net migration gain of 12,000 over the last 20 years, and is the lowest net gain since the October 2001.