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Total international visitor spend decreases 2 per cent

International visitor spend estimates released today by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment shows a decrease in total spend by 2 per cent for the year ending September 2012.

The decline is reflective of the on-going increase in travellers visiting family and relatives (VFR), a decrease in the average length of stay as well as the strong New Zealand dollar.

Australian visitors continued to be the largest tourist market with total spend of $1.7 billion for the period. Total expenditure from China grew 37 per cent for the same period.

"The importance of China continues with it now ranked the second-largest by spend, overtaking the UK for the first time," says Chris Roberts, General Manager Corporate Affairs Tourism New Zealand.

"Despite the on-going growth we have seen from China in terms of total expenditure, the challenge we face is increasing the length of stay to fully realise the potential of this market.

"We continue to work with the industry in New Zealand and in the Chinese market to increase the number of independent holiday Chinese visitors, who travel more widely, stay longer and experience more of what New Zealand has to offer."

VFR visitors grew by 6 per cent for the period, seeing total VFR spend increase 5 per cent to $1.1 billion. Total holiday spend remained unchanged at $2.9 billion.

Visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Economy website for a copy of theInternational Visitor Survey release and data.