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Nearly 75,000 visitors in NZ last month for Rugby World Cup

Friday 21st October 2011

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New Zealand visitor numbers climbed by more than a quarter in September as an inflow of people for the Rugby World Cup landed for the six-week-long tournament.

Short-term visitor arrivals rose to 219,900 in September, up from 174,200 a year earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. Of those, about 74,400 arrived for the sporting tournament, taking the three-month total of arrivals for the event to 80,000. The event attracted visitors from non-participating companies, Statistics NZ said.

“The underlying trend appears to remain relatively subdued,” ASB economist Jane Turner said. “Once the tournament finishes, the outlook for tourism activity remains challenging.”

The government expects the tournament, which does not end until this Sunday, Oct. 23, will have attracted some 95,000 people in total, and injectd $700 million into the economy, though officials haven’t figured out the net benefit for the country as some spending was put off until the event.

A surge of arrivals for the semi-finals and finals seems likely, with Auckland abuzz with reports of glamorous international visitors arriving discretely ahead of Sunday night’s test match.

New Zealanders took fewer trips in September, with just 167,400 taking an overseas holiday compared to 210,000 a year ago. The department said the main reason was due to the later timing of the school holidays to coincide with the Rugby World Cup.

Still, there was a seasonally adjusted net outflow of 700 New Zealanders who left the country long term in September, as more kiwis jumped across the Tasman, and fewer people entered the country on student and work visas. That’s the sixth net outflow in the past seven months, and takes the annual net migration inflow to 773.

“The weakness in net migration highlights ongoing weakness in total domestic consumer demand, and the lack of urgency to increase the OCR (official cash rate),” Turner said. “However, over the coming year, we expect that steady jobs growth will see skill shortages emerge, which will then encourage a pick-up in inward migration.”

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