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How New Zealand's Tourist Arrivals Have Grown

New Zealand is a country of immigrants, with less than 15 percent of the population consisting of Maori. Immigration has long been associated with Europe, with the vast majority of those from the United Kingdom, so it's of little surprise that family visits were the original focus of tourism.

However, as the country has matured, more immigrants from other countries have swelled the ranks of those calling New Zealand home. Asians make up just over 9 percent, and Pacific Islanders make up just under 7 percent. Again, this creates a draw for many people from various countries.

The filming of The Lord of the Rings and various other films in New Zealand has greatly boosted tourism, with people going to see the sets created for those films. Unspoilt landscapes, warm climate and friendly people — part of the reason the nation is chosen as a film spot — also draw visitors from other lands.

New Zealand's Biggest Partner: Australia

Australians make up the vast majority of arrivals into New Zealand, with approximately 470,000 people arriving in the year ending March 2017 for holidays. These people racked up more than 5 million stay days. Peak arrivals are in December, as people look for cooler days, and there are high numbers of arrivals throughout January and February. Numbers from Australia are generally up from the previous year, with 76,384 people arriving in December alone, an increase of 11.1 percent. This bodes well for the tourism sector.

These figures are helped by the improving economy in Australia and the general perception of New Zealand in Australia. As a result, they're likely to remain consistently high as the economic situation carries on.

New Zealand's Biggest Hope: China

China represents a mainstay of investment, but it's also the source of dramatically increasing tourist numbers. While the number of tourists entering from this country are still lower than those from Australia, sustained growth thanks to improved transport links are likely to push these numbers higher until Australian tourists are outnumbered by Chinese tourists.

At the moment, the peak month for Chinese tourism is January, with approximately 42,688 tourists arriving in January 2017. This is an increase of 33.7 percent on January 2016, which is an astonishing growth figure. Overall, Chinese tourism has increased by 4.5 percent with Chinese tourists taking 2.7 million stay days. Part of this is driven by economic factors, such as the growing middle class in China, and part is due to a focus by New Zealand agencies on promoting New Zealand to Chinese tourists.

New Zealand's Old Country: The United Kingdom

The UK has long been a major trade partner with New Zealand thanks to the solid ties between the two countries, and a large percentage of tourists come for what they call winter sun. Peak tourist arrivals happen in February, with 20,880 tourists arriving upon the shores during February 2017. Holiday arrivals are generally up 5.4 percent from the previous period to 96,464 total, with the average length of stay being 27.2 days. This is partly due to the length of travel time required, but it also includes those who are on the ever-popular working holiday visa. Most arrivals to New Zealand are either retirees or those on a year out.

Business Personified: The United States

The United States plays a major role on the global stage, so it's no surprise that a large percentage of tourists are from this area. Holiday traffic from the United States is up 27.5 percent to 202,592 arrivals, partly thanks to the unexpected election of the new presidential administration. The most popular month is February, with 33,632 arrivals, but December is a very close second with 28,528 arrivals.

All of this presents a glowing picture of New Zealand's tourist economy, with thousands more arrivals expected each year. As the country seeks to capitalise on the growing Chinese tourist market, industry leaders must be willing to expand investment in the tourist sector in key locations and alleviate the growing room shortage, particularly in Auckland and the surrounding areas.


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