By Rebecca Howard
July 15 (BusinessDesk) - International travel into New Zealand eased in May with fewer visitors arriving from China and India.
About 219,300 visitors arrived in New Zealand in May, down 1.2 percent on the year, Stats NZ figures show. The number of Chinese visitors fell 9 percent on the year to 27,782. There were 90,848 Australian visitors that month, up 0.8 percent on the year. The number of visitors from India tumbled 20.6 percent to 7,193.
“May is typically a quiet month for international travel to New Zealand,” population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said. The drop in arrivals from India may reflect less international travel due to the election in India held in April and May this year, Stats NZ said.
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.
Today's data show annual visitors rose 2.2 percent to 3.9 million people in the 12 months to May 31.
Australians made up the biggest source of international visitors at 1.51 million for the 12 months through May, up 2.3 percent while China was in second place at 421,707, down 5.8 percent on the year.
Americans were the third-biggest source for tourists with 365,972 arrivals in the year, up 8.1 percent, while the UK was in fourth at 233,723, down 6.8 percent.
Tourists face a $35 levy from this month, 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 May, which estimated a net 1,690 people migrated to New Zealand that month, up from a net 1,808 a year earlier. That took the provisional annual net migration figure to 50,541 in May from 49,903 a year earlier.
The provisional 12-month figure may be adjusted higher or lower by about 1,400, the agency said.
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.
The net migration inflow for April was revised to 1,483 from a previous estimate of 2,500, while the annual figure was lowered to 50,659 from an initial estimate of 55,800.