600,000 winter visitors expected as tourism bounces back

by Kim Bowden - Jun 13, 2023

Airline bookings reveal more than 600,000 visitors are expected to arrive on Kiwi soil this winter as new figures confirm the tourism sector is bouncing back from its pandemic low.

Figures released today show 221,300 overseas visitor arrivals in April, while airline booking and capacity data estimate more than 600,000 visitors are expected to be on their way for a mid-year break.

The figure is not quite at pre-Covid levels, but it is not far off.

Tourism minister Peeni Henare: Tourism is playing a role in 'strong post-pandemic recovery'.

It is a little more than 83 per cent of arrival numbers in winter 2019, with expected visitors from Australia approaching around 90 per cent (more than 300,000 expected arrivals) this winter compared to pre-pandemic levels (345,000 in 2019).

In a statement announcing the figures, tourism minister Peeni Henare says it "is great news for the hundred thousand Kiwis directly employed in tourism and their communities around Aotearoa New Zealand who rely on the industry for local jobs and economic growth".

He says the "rebound complements the government’s investment in regional infrastructure while the borders were closed, which is enabling a strong post-pandemic recovery”.

International visitors spent $3.2 billion in New Zealand in the first quarter, up from $1.8 billion in the December quarter.

The spend makes international tourism the second highest export this quarter behind dairy exports of milk powder, butter, and cheese, at $5.2 billion.

The increase in spending by international visitors reflects the larger flow of international visitors for the peak summer holiday season, as well as an increase in holidaymakers who spend more per day ($310 per day) than the average visitor ($210 per day), the statement says.

Visitor numbers are also buoyed by the increase in flight capacity, with Australian visitors remaining the largest single market, spending $1 billion, followed by visitors from the United States ($518 million) and the United Kingdom ($383 million).

In addition, electronic card spending data shows international visitors spent $328 million in April, up 25 per cent compared with April 2019 ($264 million).

Using forward airline booking and capacity data, we estimate over 600,000 international visitor arrivals this winter (June to August 2023), more than 83 per cent of arrivals than in winter 2019. We also expect visitors from Australia to approach around 90 per cent (over 300,000 arrivals) this winter compared to pre-COVID levels (345,000 in 2019).

“The government’s priority has been to support the tourism sector to recover and to ensure a future for the industry that is sustainable," the minister says.


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