International visitor arrivals are up 0.5 per cent year-on-year and 8.7 per cent for the month - making it the highest ever result for a May month. The increase in arrivals translates to an extra 224,480 stay days for the month.
Justin Watson, Tourism New Zealand's acting Chief Executive says; "When we look at the first five months of 2013 we see a considerable upwards shift in arrivals - with total arrivals up 5.8 per cent against the same period last year and holiday arrivals up 9.4 per cent."
The strong arrivals seen during summer and autumn continue to be maintained with all of the tourism sector's core markets in growth. For the month of May Australia, the source of 45 per cent of New Zealand's arrivals, is up by a very strong 12.3 per cent.
Tourism New Zealand's other top five markets are also all in growth: China (30.2%), Japan (8.6%), UK (0.3%), Germany (7.1%) and the USA (6.0%).
Justin notes that the results are particularly encouraging for the long-haul western markets, which have been struggling for some time, and supports the positive impact seen from the investment in marketing New Zealand's association with the Hobbit trilogy.
"Last month's International Visitor Survey showed that 8.5 per cent of all international visitors surveyed between January to March said The Hobbit was a factor in stimulating their interest in New Zealand as a destination.
"With continued growth through May from key target markets for the campaign, such as the USA, it is clear the 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand campaign is achieving its objectives - providing the additional motivation and reason to convert interest in a holiday to New Zealand into an actual booking."
And the picture looks positive as the sector heads into the winter season.
"With the record snow levels seen last week across the country it looks like we are well placed for a sterling winter season for ski resorts and the wider industry."
From 1 July, Tourism New Zealand will be implementing its new Three Year Marketing Strategy, with increased funds being committed across four key areas of its business: international business events, emerging markets, high-value premium travel and the up-scaling of specific activity in core markets.
Contact Leah Phelps, Senior Communications Advisor, Tourism New Zealand
firstname.lastname@example.org; phone +64 21 843 896