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International visitor spend decreases six per cent

Tourism New Zealand says the drop in international visitor spend is a result of the change in visitor mix and the impact of increased spend in 2011 by visitors attending the Rugby World Cup.

Kevin Bowler, Chief Executive says: "The increase in travellers visiting family and relatives (VFR), decrease in the average length of stay and a strong New Zealand dollar are all contributing to a decline in total spend.

"Australia and China provide our two biggest sources of visitors. However, these markets also have a high proportion of VFR and tend to stay for shorter lengths of time than the long-haul markets.

"Despite this, the spend from China increased by 42 per cent for the period.

"We continue to focus our efforts on increasing spend, particularly in the China market, with initiatives like the Premiere Kiwi Partnership programme that markets longer-stay, higher-value itineraries to free and independent travellers. 

"Positively, the Japan market continues to show some signs of recovery, with total spend up 31 per cent to $273 million.

"The current economic situation in Europe, and New Zealand's high exchange rate, had understandably impacted on long-haul arrivals and level of spend, with expenditure from the UK down 21.0 per cent and USA down 7.0 per cent.

"These markets remain valuable and a focus in our marketing activity, and we anticipate that the growing awareness of New Zealand as the result of the release of the firstHobbit movie and our focused marketing efforts will increase preference to travel to New Zealand across all markets - especially the long-haul markets of the USA."

Total spend by international arrivals has decreased six per cent for the year ending December 2012, with total spend of $5.42 billion.

The results were released today by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment in its quarterly International Visitor Survey.