New Zealand's long-haul tourist markets are flagging in the face of a high New Zealand dollar and global uncertainties.
More tourists from China helped hold up overall visitor arrivals to New Zealand in May, but the trend is down for tourists from Australia, Britain, Germany and the United States.
Visitors to New Zealand rose less than 1 per cent in May this year compared with May last year, to 140,800, Statistics New Zealand said.
Visitor arrival numbers fell about 1 per cent between April and May, seasonally adjusted, economists said.
Visitors from China were up 4400 from May last year, but visitors from Britain and Australia were down 1400 and 2000 respectively. A high Australian dollar was encouraging more Australians to travel further than just to New Zealand, and tough times in Britain were putting off tourists from long-distance trips.
But China was a growing tourism market for New Zealand, with arrivals in May up more than 50 per cent on the same month last year.
"The number of visitors from China (12,900) was the highest-ever from that country for a May month," population statistics manager Andrea Blackburn said. "This is a continuation of a trend showing increases in visitors from China."
In the May 2012 year, 2.6 million visitors arrived in New Zealand, up 4 per cent from 2011. The largest increases were in numbers of visitors from China, Australia, France, and Malaysia. The largest decrease was in visitors from Japan.
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said annual visitor numbers topped 2.6 million in later 2011 for the first time.
Annual visitor numbers from Australia were still up 3.3 per cent, and China was up almost 33 per cent, which was a good sign.
Arrivals from Southeast Asia fell in May after Air Asia X pulled out of its service to New Zealand.
- © Fairfax NZ News