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Overseas visitor spending down 6%

Tuesday 17th May 2011

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Spending by international tourists fell 6% in the past year, at the same time as the New Zealand dollar rose by the same amount.

The Ministry of Economic Development said visitors spent $5.6 billion in this country in the year to March, down from $6 billion a year earlier. That was despite a slight rise in the number of tourists to 2.5 million, among the highest on record.

The 6% fall in spending was matched by a rise of 6% in the strength of the NZ dollar on the trade weighted index.

Ministry tourism research and evaluation manager Peter Ellis said international interest in this country remained high, with tourists visiting in near-record numbers despite sluggish economies in some major markets.

The strong NZ dollar was apparently a factor in limiting how much tourists were willing to spend and how long they stayed for, Ellis said.

American tourists, who had seen a large decline in the value of their currency against the kiwi, had spent nearly 14% less than a year earlier.

A 7% fall in spending by Australians, making up for a third of the drop in overall spending, was thought to be largely a result of a change in the mix of visitors from holiday-makers to business visitors, who tended to have shorter stays.

The 18% fall in spending by British visitors accounted for another third of the total, and was largely due to a decline in visitor numbers from Britain, which resulted from the weak economic situation in that country and a decline in the value of the pound.

Visits and spending from some newer markets was up significantly, with Korean tourists spending 44% more than last year and Chinese spending 9% more.

Overall spending by holidaymakers, the tourist type that spent the most, was down 5%.

With the survey finishing at the end of March, it did not include the full effects of earthquakes in Christchurch and Japan.



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