However, Tourism New Zealand warns that there is no room for complacency and detailed analysis of the data highlights a number of challenges for the tourism industry.
The VEM is an annual survey of 4,500 international tourists who came to New Zealand for a holiday or to visit friends and family in the year 2011/2012. Visitors are asked to rate how satisfied they were with various aspects of their New Zealand holiday.
Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says the information is used to identify trends in visitor behaviour and to determine which aspects of a visit have the greatest impact on overall satisfaction.
"This year's satisfaction results remain strong with no change to overall satisfaction. "However, we are seeing a continued decline in the percentage of people 'very likely' to recommend New Zealand to others (9 or 10 on a 10 point scale). Over the past four years the percentage has dropped from 84 per cent to 79 per cent," says Kevin.
The percentage of people 'likely' (7-10 on a 10 point scale) to recommend remains unchanged from last year at 96 per cent.
"From detailed analysis of the results, it is clear that the current strength of the New Zealand dollar is having an impact. While satisfaction scores around the quality of services have seen an improvement on last year, visitor satisfaction with the price of activities, food and beverage and accommodation has decreased," says Kevin.
The past year has seen a continued fall in the average number of activities international visitors are participating in, down from 13.8 activities in 2010/11 to 12.9 activities in 2011/12. They may be doing less, but international visitors are still highly satisfied overall with activities.
"This decrease is consistent with spending trends as cost is a key consideration for visitors when determining the number of activities they will participate in during their holiday."
New Zealand's natural environment continues to receive the highest overall satisfaction rating of 9 out of 10, consistent with last year's results.
"Experiencing natural scenery remains a favourite for travellers, with activities involving natural scenery such as bush walks, mountain climbing and photography resulting in the highest levels of satisfaction."
The growing use of mobile devices while in New Zealand and use of social media are trends of interest to Tourism New Zealand.
Kevin says: "Use of new forms of technology has increased significantly, particularly the use of Wi-Fi, laptops and tablets, Smart Phones and mobile phones with a New Zealand SIM card.
"There has also been a significant increase in the number of visitors engaging with social media to share their experiences in New Zealand, both during and post travel, with Facebook the most commonly used social media tool for sharing New Zealand holiday experiences.
"This illustrates the growing importance of digital technology within the travel industry. Tourism New Zealand has placed a large focus on developing our digital presence, undertaking extensive work on our consumer site newzealand.com to better meet visitor's needs online," says Kevin.
While overall safety scores have improved since last year and are high (8.8 out of 10, up from 8.7 in 2012/11) visitors are notably less satisfied with road safety which was rated 8.2 out of 10.
"This result suggests that different driving cultures and the unique experience that is driving on New Zealand roads, continues to impact visitor's satisfaction with safety while in New Zealand," says Kevin.
On average, visitors from the USA, UK and Germany are most satisfied with their New Zealand holiday experience, while Korean travellers are the least satisfied. Japanese travellers are significantly more satisfied this past year, than the year before.
Detailed results from the survey are being provided to the industry through TNZ's corporate website tourismnewzealand.com
Contact Chris Roberts, General Manager Corporate Affairs, Tourism New Zealand
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