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Figures show tourism was booming

By Phil Boeyen, ShareChat Business News Editor

Friday 21st September 2001

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The number of people visiting New Zealand for a holiday passed the magic 1 million mark for the first time in the year ended August but that may come as cold comfort to tour operators in the wake of recent events.

Tourism and airline shares have been hit with a double whammy from the fallout of the US terrorist attacks and Air New Zealand's (NZSE: AIRVA) woes, with analysts expecting demand will remain subdued as investors seek less volatile places to put their cash.

That makes the latest boom in visitor arrivals particularly bitter-sweet.

Figures for August show overseas visitor arrivals rose 17% on the same month last year to 136,900, with the biggest growth coming from Australia, Asia, America and Europe.

Statistics New Zealand says that for the year ended August 1.008 million short-term visitors came to New Zealand for a holiday - the first time that the one million level has been reached.

Almost one-quarter of the holiday makers came from Australia, followed by Japan, the US and the UK. The average length of a holiday was 17 days and the median age of holiday makers was 41 years.

Short-term departures by New Zealanders in August totalled 118,100, up 8% on the same month last year, with the biggest increase coming from travel to Fiji.

It's not yet known what long-term effect the combination of the US downturn and the Air New Zealand difficulties will have on the country's tourist market although there are hopes New Zealand will be seen as a 'safe' destination in uncertain times.

The number of people coming to New Zealand on a permanent or long-term basis in August exceeded departures by 1,500, a reversal of the net migration outflow of 900 recorded in August last year.

For the year to the end of August 4,400 more people left New Zealand on a permanent or long-term basis than arrived, a 56% drop compared with the net outflow of 10,000 recorded the previous year.

Australia remains the most popular long-term or permanent destination for New Zealanders leaving the country while China accounted for the greatest net inflow followed by India, South Africa, Fiji and Japan.

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