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South African visitor numbers rise in month of visa changes

Monday 16th January 2017

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The number of visitors from South Africa in November last year rose by more than a quarter, despite the ending of the visa waiver agreement between the two countries. 

Figures published by Statistics New Zealand show 2,144 South African nationals visited the country in November, an increase of 448, or 26 percent, on the same month a year earlier. 

On Nov. 21, 2016, Immigration New Zealand ended its visa waiver programme for South Africans, citing the increased number who had been refused entry to New Zealand because they were not genuine visitors. All South African citizens must now apply for a visa prior to travel. 

South Africa then introduced the requirement for New Zealand citizens to obtain a visitor's visa a month later. The South African High Commission's website shows that a visitor's visa costs $95. 

The biggest growth in visitor numbers in November came from the United States, with 33,888 visiting New Zealand that month, a rise of 7,136, or 27 percent. Other established tourist markets for New Zealand saw strong growth, with visitor numbers from Japan and Korea rising 25 percent and 27 percent respectively. 

The number of visitors from China, a growing source of tourists, was more stable, with 38,752 arriving in New Zealand in November, an increase of 5.5 percent, or 2,016. 

The strongest growth in visitor numbers in percentage terms came from Argentina. Tourists from there rose to 1,344, an increase of 928, or 223 percent. In December 2015, Air New Zealand introduced a new direct route between Auckland and Buenos Aires, upgrading the plane to a Dreamliner and lifting the frequency of flights from Oct. 30 last year.

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