The results come as the tourism industry heads into what promises to be the biggest summer on record.
The 2016 spring shoulder season growth was strong with a 16.1% increase in holiday arrivals across the September-November months.
Brighid Kelly, acting Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive says this is a great result when compared to the 15.1% growth seen over last year’s peak.
“What we are seeing is a continuation of growth in our shoulder seasons outstripping the peak. This is great news as Tourism New Zealand continues with its work to promote only shoulder season travel.”
Holiday arrival figures for Australia, India and the United States were also of particular note.
“Nearly 32,000 more Americans holidayed in New Zealand compared to the same time last year, made possible by increased airline routes and new airlines coming on board,” says Brighid.
“Arrivals from the US grew at a steady rate across 2016, something we are expecting to continue as our recent work to train over 2,000 US based travel agents on what New Zealand has to offer starts paying off in travel bookings.”
Australia, a priority market also saw significant growth in holiday arrivals, up 8.9 per cent on the same time last year.
Brighid says, “We have been running significant campaigns in Australia over the last few months especially focused on travel outside the peak season and this, alongside increased flights from eight ports across Australia, has encouraged more visitors across the Tasman.”
Holiday arrivals from the emerging Indian market have also continued to grow, with a 22.3% year end increase compared to November 2015.
“The introduction of Bollywood actor Sidharth Malhotra as our Indian ambassador in 2015 has proven to be a fantastic investment based on these newest figures.”
“Sidharth’s recent return visit to New Zealand is expected to result in further Indian holiday visitor growth on the back of his widely followed social media coverage of his experience across the country.
“It’s also great to see significant arrivals growth from the Argentinian market with figures showing over 10,000 more arrivals than last year. Argentina is a key emerging market where we have been undertaking a range of work in to raise awareness of New Zealand as a holiday destination.
“With direct flights now arriving three times a week from Buenos Aires with plans to extend, the region has really opened up.”
“It’s fair to say it’s been a fantastic spring season that sets the scene for a bumper summer for the New Zealand tourism industry.
“It will deliver a range of benefits for New Zealanders with tourism spend flowing on to retail owners, supermarkets, petrol stations, restaurants and cafes in addition to accommodation and travel suppliers.”
Earlier this year tourism was confirmed as New Zealand’s top export pumping over $14.5 billion into the economy and directly employing over 188,000 people.