Regions benefit as tourism confirmed as New Zealand’s top export

Phenomenal growth has seen tourism become New Zealand’s top export earner.

Annual data released today shows international tourism has pumped $14.5 billion into the economy and directly employed over 188,000 people for the year ending March 2016.

“Tourism benefits all New Zealanders and the level of growth we are achieving is presenting huge opportunities that are ripe for the picking,” says outgoing Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler.

“The impact of tourism spend is far ranging, benefiting retail owners, supermarkets, petrol stations, restaurants and cafes in addition to accommodation and travel spend.”

“One in 13 New Zealanders are now directly employed in the tourism industry and this will increase as visitor numbers continue to grow.”

Last year 3.4 million overseas visitors came to New Zealand and at the current rate of growth will double in seven years.

Kevin leaves his tourism role this week after seven years as Chief Executive.

“It’s a great feeling to leave the industry on such a high note. New Zealand tourism is thriving and these results confirm it’s the driving force behind the economy.”

“This is the highest level of international tourism expenditure on record and it’s predicted to increase.”

“Tourism New Zealand is doing a fantastic job promoting what the country has to offer the world and the results speak for themselves.”

“I’m extremely proud of the innovative and creative work my staff across the world do to market New Zealand to selected target audiences.”

When Kevin started the in the role in early 2010 tourism numbers had just started to recover following significant visitor number decreases bought on by the global financial crisis and high fuel prices.

“Extremely successful Middle earth campaigns and a deep focus on digital media helped drive significant growth in visitor numbers,”

During Kevin’s tenure visitor numbers increased a whopping 37 percent alongside an impressive 41 percent increase in visitor dollars to the NZD economy. 

“Over the last year we have been really focused on attracting visitors in the shoulder seasons to spread visitor numbers more evenly across the entire year. We invested 100% of our marketing dollars into travel outside peak periods and as a result, the combined percentage growth for autumn 2015 and spring 2016 was considerably higher than the summer growth.”

Tourism growth is set to continue, with the industry expecting a record-breaking year ahead.