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International visitor numbers stable in February

Date Published: 13 April 2011

New Zealand welcomed 268,259 international visitors during February, an increase of 0.2 per cent compared to the same month last year, according to Statistics New Zealand figures released on 13 April.

Visitors numbers from Australia (up 2.5 per cent), the US (up 0.8 per cent), Canada (up 3.4 per cent), Germany (up 2.3 per cent) China (up 6.0 per cent), Japan (up 4.5 per cent) and South Korea (up 3.8 per cent) were slightly higher in February 2011 than the same month last year. However, growth in overall numbers was tempered by a decline in visitors from the UK (down 10.2 per cent).

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler said the earthquake in Christchurch on February 22 would be a factor in the slower than usual 0.2 per cent growth in arrivals during February, although a clearer picture of the impact on visitor numbers would not be available until the March and April figures were released.

"Reduced growth in visitor numbers was inevitable; however the arrival figures for February remained reasonably stable. The earthquake occurred relatively late in February, so while it is likely to have had an impact, three quarters of the month had passed. We will know more about the impact after next month's figures."

According to the Statistics New Zealand figures, there was a 5.6 per cent decrease (7,925 people) in the number of visitors who came to New Zealand for a holiday during February 2011, compared to February 2010. That was offset by an increase in people arriving to visit relatives or friends or for business purposes.

Mr Bowler cautioned that the earthquake in Christchurch and the subsequent events in Japan in March were likely to have a more significant impact on arrival numbers during March and April, but said he was confident growth would return in the lead-up to Rugby World Cup 2011.

"It has been a tough time for many operators, however Tourism New Zealand has put in a great deal of work to promote the fact that New Zealand remains a great holiday destination following the earthquake, including increasing advertising, marketing and international media activity, Mr Bowler said.

"I'm confident that with a ski season around the corner, new airline links coming on stream and 85,000 visitors expected for Rugby World Cup 2011 we will achieve good visitor numbers for 2011."

New Zealand has welcomed 2,534,349 international visitors in the year to February 2011, an increase of 2.1 per cent compared to the year to February 2010.

International visitor arrivals for February 2011:

Country Arrivals for Feb Change from Feb 2010 Arrivals full year to Feb Change for full year to Feb
Australia 93,600 Up 2.5% 1,123,944 Up 2.2%
UK 36,350 Down 10.2% 226,721 Down 11.5%
USA 25,500 Up 0.8% 189,732 Down 4.0%
China 18,000 Up 6.0% 128,862 Up 25.9%
Japan 10,425 Up 4.5% 89,055 Up 11.8%
South Korea 5,475 Up 3.8% 68,031 Up 23.7%
Germany 9,875 Up 2.3% 64,921 Down 1.1%
Canada 7,500 Up 3.4% 49,493 Up 1.6%
Total (for all markets) 268,259 Up 0.2% 2,534,249 Up 2.1%