Wednesday 22 June 2016 11:29 AM
NZ tourism, migration boom continues in May
By Paul McBeth
June 22 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's booming tourism and migration were extended in May as the economy's two biggest support planks continued to set annual records.
Annual net migration reached a new record 68,400 in May, rising from 68,100 in the year through April, and up from 57,800 a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said. At the same time, overseas short-term visitor arrivals reached 3.29 million in the year ended May 31, up from 3.27 million in the year through April and 11 percent higher than a year earlier.
A swelling population stoking more activity and record inflows of tourists have helped offset the impact of a rural sector reeling from weak dairy prices. At the same time, a rising population has posed problems for policymakers by fuelling demand for an already-stretched housing market in Auckland, while restraining wage growth. The nation's per-capita growth has been anemic.
Today's data show the inflow of net migration is slowing with the seasonally adjusted monthly gain at 5,500, down from a peak of 6,200 in November last year. Visitors on work visas accounted for the bulk of new arrivals, up 11 percent to 38,900 in the year ended May 31, while those on student visas were up an annual 8.3 percent at 27,800. The number of New Zealand and Australian citizens arriving rose 4.8 percent to 36,300 in the year.
The Treasury expects annual net migration will peak in June at 70,700, before returning to the long-run average of 12,000 by June 2019.
"We expect annual net migration to fall rapidly over the coming year or two, as foreigners who arrived on temporary work or student visas over the past three years begin to depart, and as the recovering Australian labour market begins to attract New Zealanders across the Tasman," Westpac Banking Corp's New Zealand chief economist Dominick Stephens said in a note. "However, even if net migration drops away from its peak, it will still be very high by historical standards for some time."
Of those new migrants who arrived in the year, a net 31,600 settled in Auckland, followed by a net 7,000 moving to Canterbury, 2,900 in Wellington, 2,600 in Waikato, and 2,400 in Bay of Plenty.
The figures also showed there were more Chinese holidaymakers in May at 22,200 than the 20,200 Australians who came for a break, just the second time China had trumped New Zealand's closest neighbour. On an annual basis, Australians made up 534,500 of the 1.68 million holidaymakers, while China was the second biggest pool at 305,400. Business visitors were up 13 percent in May to 25,600 from a year earlier, and 4.7 percent on an annual basis to 281,900, more than half of whom came from across the Tasman.
Indian holidaymakers, a market Tourism New Zealand wants to grow in an effort to bridge the nation's shoulder season, rose14 percent to 3,500 in the month of May and were up 15 percent to 23,900 in the year.