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Visitor Arrivals From China Down In 2019

Visitor arrivals from China fell 9 percent to 407,100 in the December 2019 year compared with the December 2018 year, Stats NZ said today.

The annual number of visitor arrivals from China has been falling since early 2019.

“Recent travel restrictions due to the novel coronavirus are expected to further affect the number of visitor arrivals from China, at least in the short term”, population indicators manager, Tehseen Islam said.

On 2 February 2020, the New Zealand Government placed temporary restrictions on entry into New Zealand for all foreign nationals travelling from or transiting through mainland China. The restrictions coincided with the usual peak travel period of Chinese New Year.

“Monthly arrivals from China typically peak in January or February, depending on the timing of the Chinese New Year holiday period,” Mr Islam said. “In February 2019, about 50,000 visitors arrived from China and, in February 2018, the figure was about 70,000.”

While 407,100 visitors arrived from China in 2019, New Zealand residents also took 141,600 trips to China in the year ended December 2019.


The annual decrease in visitor arrivals from China was more than offset by an increase from other countries, especially Australia and the United States. Despite the fall in visitor arrivals from China, it has remained New Zealand’s second largest visitor market since December 2012.

Total visitor arrivals to New Zealand grew 0.7 percent to 3.89 million in 2019.

“This is the lowest annual growth in a December year since 2013, down from 12 percent growth in the year ended December 2016,” Mr Islam said. “The decline in visitor arrivals from China was a key factor in this.”

The largest annual changes were from:

  • Australia – up 43,400 to 1.54 million
  • United States – up 15,900 to 368,000
  • China – down 41,000 to 407,100
  • Malaysia – down 14,700 to 41,800.


In the December 2019 month, the total number of visitor arrivals was 528,200, down 0.2 percent when compared with December 2018.

Overseas visitors stayed longer in the December month

Overseas visitors arriving in December tend to stay longer than in other months. This is because more visit family and friends during this month.

In the month of December 2019, the median length of stay (half stayed longer than this time, half stayed less) for overseas visitors arriving in New Zealand was 12 days.

For the full 2019 year, the median length of stay for overseas visitors was eight days.

New Zealand-resident travellers hit record high

New Zealand-resident travellers returned from a record 3.10 million overseas trips in the December 2019 year, 2.7 percent more than in 2018.

This record number was due to an increase in people returning from short-term trips to Australia and Indonesia. The largest changes were from:

  • Australia – up 45,700 to 1.28 million
  • Indonesia – up 16,200 to 83,200
  • Japan – up 14,400 to 61,100
  • China – up 9,200 to 141,600
  • United States – down 9,400 to 205,600.


Australia was the most visited country, with two in every five New Zealand-resident travellers arriving back from there.

“In 2019, we made 63 overseas trips for every 100 New Zealand residents,” Mr Islam said.

In the December 2019 month, the number of people returning from short-term trips was 194,500, up 20,200 from December 2018. Just over half of the returning New Zealand-resident travellers were coming from Australia.

Boxing Day cricket test a boost for Melbourne

New Zealand-resident travellers returning through Melbourne airport increased 10,600 to 38,400 in the December month 2019 compared with December 2018. The Boxing Day cricket test between New Zealand and Australia, held in Melbourne, contributed to the increase in the number of New Zealand-resident travellers flying back from that city.

“Sydney airport is usually the most common overseas airport for returning New Zealand-resident travellers,” Mr Islam said. “The number of short-term travellers returning through Melbourne airport in December 2019 topped Sydney airport for the first time, most likely because of the Boxing Day cricket test.”


The overseas airport of a passenger’s flight is the last airport where they boarded an aircraft before arriving in New Zealand, although they may have started their return trip from another airport.

The Government Statistician authorises all statistics and data we publish.

For more information about these statistics:

https://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/2002/internationalvisitorarrivalstonewzealanddecember2019.xlsx

https://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/2002/itdec19tables.xlsx

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