New Zealand recorded an increase in short-term visitor numbers during August, with demand principally driven by the growing Chinese market.
According to the latest release from Statistics New Zealand visitor arrivals rose by four per cent to an all time high of 168,100 in August, compared to the same month a year earlier.
Some 5,200 more Chinese guests comprise up the bulk of the gain, with the number of Chinese nationals holidaying in New Zealand increasing threefold from August 2009.
Business arrivals from the country more than doubled over the period.
New Zealand has grown closer with the world’s second largest economy over the past two years after China’s first Free Trade Agreement with an OECD nation came into effect.
Since John Key swept to power in 2008, the prime minister has made improving New Zealand’s relationship with China one of his foreign policy priorities.
Australian tourism remained strong with some 88,000 jumping across the Tasman for a holiday in August.
An increased number of visitors from Japan (up 41 per cent to just under 8,000) and South Korea (up 12 per cent to 4,700) showed the regional tourism market recovering from the impact of last year’s swine-flu outbreak, Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said.
The impact of the Christchurch earthquake earlier this month is, however, likely to hit the growth in visitor figures for September.
Some 840 more people arrived in New Zealand than left last month, keeping net migration in positive territory, though it’s almost half the number in August 2008.
Australians and Britons made up the bulk of new migrants, followed by Indians and Chinese.