About the tourism industry

Before COVID-19, tourism was New Zealand's largest export industry and delivered $40.9 billion to the country. Tourism made a significant positive impact on regional economies supporting employment by directly employing 8.4 percent (229,566 people) of the New Zealand workforce.

Tourism must give back more than it takes to our people and home and we are focused on ensuring that tourism contributes across the four wellbeing capitals.

Economy

The tourism economy thrives and grows adding incremental value to the New Zealand economy and its assets.

Nature

Tourism restores, maintains and nourishes the environment for the intergenerational benefit of New Zealand.

Culture

The tourism story and experience preserves and enhances our values, culture and heritage; the make up of our identity.

Society

People in and part of tourism communities thrive through jobs, shared knowledge, and physical and mental wellbeing.

Latest tourism data, insights and statistics

Tourism is vital to New Zealand’s recovery and new insights showcase the value that tourism delivers to the country across the four wellbeing capitals and also reveal there is likely to be a significant $12.9 billion gap per annum without international visitors.

The latest Tourism Satellite Account figures reinforced tourism’s importance to New Zealand’s economy, and our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

For the year ended March 2020:

  • Tourism was still New Zealand’s biggest export industry until the beginning of 2020, contributing 20.1% of foreign exchange earnings.
  • Total tourism expenditure was $41.9 billion, up 2.4 percent ($1.0 billion) from the previous year.
  • International tourism expenditure increased 2.7 percent ($371 million) to $17.5 billion, and contributed 20.1 percent to New Zealand’s total exports of goods and services.
  • Despite the increase in expenditure, the number of short-term arrivals to New Zealand decreased 5.6 percent in the same period.
  • Domestic tourism expenditure increased 2.7 percent ($629 million) to $24.4 billion.
  • Tourism generated a direct contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) of $16.4 billion, or 5.5 percent of GDP.
  • The indirect value added of industries supporting tourism generated an additional $11.2 billion, or 4.0 percent of GDP.
  • 225,384 people were directly employed in tourism (8.0 percent of the total number of people employed in New Zealand), an increase of 2.5 percent from the previous year.
  • Tourists generated $3.9 billion in goods and services tax (GST) revenue, with $1.8 billion coming from international tourists.

In comparison, for the year ended March 2019:

  • Total tourism expenditure was $40.9 billion, an increase of 4 percent ($1.6 billion) from the previous year.
  • International tourism expenditure increased 5.2 percent ($843 million) to $17.2 billion, and contributed 20.4 percent to New Zealand’s total exports of goods and services.
  • The number of short-term arrivals to New Zealand increased 1.3 percent over the same period.
  • Tourism generated a direct contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) of $16.2 billion, or 5.8 percent of GDP.
  • Tourism is our biggest export industry, contributing 21% of foreign exchange earnings.
  • The indirect value added of industries supporting tourism generated an additional $11.2 billion, or 4.0 percent of GDP.
  • 229,566 people were directly employed in tourism (8.4 percent of the total number of people employed in New Zealand), an increase of 3.9 percent from the previous year.
  • Tourists generated $3.8 billion in goods and services tax (GST) revenue, with $1.8 billion coming from international tourists

(Source: Tourism Satellite Account 2019, Statistics New Zealand)

Want to know more?

Find out more about our international markets, including latest statistics and data, in the Markets and Stats section of this website.

Visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Economic Development information for Tourism Industry Key Statistics.

Find out more about the global tourism industry at www.unwto.org