Total visitor arrivals for the year ending September 2013 were up 2.9 per cent, year-on-year.
Holidaymakers continue to drive the growth in overall numbers, with September holiday arrivals up 16.4 per cent on the same month a year ago, bringing an additional 12,944 visitors to New Zealand for the month.
Tourism New Zealand CE Kevin Bowler noted holiday arrivals from all three of its tier one markets reported growth in September, with arrivals for the month from Australia up 4.3 per cent, China up 78.4 per cent and the USA up 10.6 per cent.
"The very strong growth seen in China arrivals occurred as travellers sought to take their holidays ahead of the new travel law, which came into effect on 1 October.
The law effectively requires travel sellers in China to offer better quality, and thus more expensive, group tour packages both domestically and internationally.
"For the first two weeks of October, unofficial figures indicate a dramatic change in the Chinese visitor mix, with the anticipated decrease in short stay group visits and a rapid rise in the number of Chinese visitors travelling independently to New Zealand.
"We expect total visitor numbers from China to be softer in October, but that this decline will be temporary as the market mix shifts to a better quality experiences for visitors. Overall it is a positive development for New Zealand tourism, and fits with our strategy to increase the value of the Chinese market to New Zealand.
In September strong growth in holiday arrivals was also seen across Asian markets with Singapore up 55.2 per cent, Japan up 28.9 per cent and Korea up 27.0 per cent.
"This growth shows the important role of marketing and aviation competition in driving capacity and in turn arrivals. These markets have all seen increased promotion of New Zealand, with sharper airfares offered from competing airlines."
Japan and Korean arrivals were also boosted by public holidays during the month encouraging many to take up airline promotional packages.
Holiday arrivals from the traditional long-haul markets maintained growth during the month, with Germany being the key performer with arrivals up 20.1 per cent. While total arrivals from the UK were down for the period, holiday arrivals maintained growth, up 6.7 per cent for the month.
"The long-staying German market is a consistent performer, with the growth seen during the month supporting our own research, with our September market research reporting the market's preference for New Zealand at a high."
The release of the latest version of TNZ's 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand advertising campaign in September has seen new campaign activity underway across all key markets which will continue to support growth into summer.
Contact Leah Phelps, Senior Communications Advisor, Tourism New Zealand
firstname.lastname@example.org | phone +64 21 843 896
For more information on the China Travel Law visit www.tourismnewzealand.com to access a column on the Impacts of new China Law