Wellington: New Zealand is embracing a tourism rebound as more than 600,000 visitors will arrive for a Kiwi winter experience.
The tourism sector is continuing to strengthen to close to pre-pandemic levels, Tourism Minister Peeni Henare said on Tuesday, citing the latest data and estimates.
There were about 221,300 overseas visitor arrivals in April 2023, and airline booking and capacity data estimate more than 600,000 visitors are expected to arrive this winter from June to August, more than 83 percent of pre-COVID-19 arrivals in winter 2019, statistics show.
Visitors from Australia are expected to approach around 90 percent this winter compared to pre-COVID-19 levels, Henare said.
“This is great news for the hundred thousand Kiwis directly employed in tourism and their communities around New Zealand who rely on the industry for local jobs and economic growth,” he said.
He said that this tourism rebound complements the government’s investment in regional infrastructure while the borders were closed, enabling a strong post-pandemic recovery.
International visitors spent 3.2 billion NZ dollars (1.96 billion U.S. dollars) in New Zealand in the first quarter of 2023, up from 1.8 billion NZ dollars (1.1 billion dollars) in the December quarter, which makes international tourism the country’s second-highest export this quarter behind dairy exports such as milk powder, butter, and cheese, said the minister.
The increase in spending by international visitors reflects the larger flow of international visitors for the peak summer holiday season and an increase in holidaymakers who spend more per day than the average visitor, he said.
Visitor numbers are also buoyed by the increase in flight capacity. Australian visitors remain the largest single market, followed by visitors from the United States and Britain, he added.
In addition, electronic card spending data shows international visitors spent 328 million NZ dollars (201.48 million dollars) in April 2023, up 25 percent compared with April 2019, statistics show.
The government support will help implement initiatives like a hospitality and tourism accreditation scheme, investments in better education and training, and improved opportunities for those who choose tourism as a career, Henare said.