Visitor spending takes a hit

Last updated 12:37 19/02/2013

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Spending by tourists slumped last year to its lowest level since 2001, new figures show. 

Visitors spent 6 per cent less in the year to December 2012, compared with the previous year, according to the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry's quarterly international visitor survey. 

Peter Ellis, tourism research and evaluation manager at the ministry, said last year's spending slip could partly be blamed on a two per cent fall in visitor numbers.

"The drop also reflects global economic conditions and the strong New Zealand dollar."

Ellis said 2011 had been a good year for tourism and spending, due to the Rugby World Cup. 

"[That] outweighed the other challenges of that year. We're now seeing a return to the decline in tourist spend that was occurring before the Cup."

The most notable trends last year were the decreases in spend by British visitors - down 21 per cent on an 18 per cent fall in visitors - and in the total amount spent by holidaymakers, down 11 per cent. 

The results were in line with the ministry's forecasts, although spending by British tourists fell away faster than predicted. 

"On the other hand, spend by Chinese visitors has increased by 42 per cent, exceeding our forecasts."

China is New Zealand's second largest tourism market after Australia. 

The survey is based on interviews with 5200 tourists per year flying out of New Zealand airports. 

Statistics New Zealand data released earlier this months shows there were 40,700 fewer visitor arrivals from Britain last year, compared with 2011.

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