Book early for April holidays - NZ tourism and migration at record high
The high season for tourism appears to be extending into April, an economist says, as a record number of visitors and migrants descend on New Zealand.
The number of people visiting New Zealand hit a record high of 3.6 million in the year to April, according to Statistics NZ, up 10 per cent on the previous year.
A 22 per cent jump in tourist arrivals in April was strong, even accounting for the fact that Easter fell during April rather than March this year, Infometrics economist Brad Olsen said.
The jump indicated New Zealand's traditional tourist season might be expanding, with April normally the start of the shoulder season, he said.
Olsen believed pressure on accommodation and other facilities during the peak season meant holidaymakers were looking for less busy times to book.
When it comes to migration, New Zealand remains a magnet for South Africans keen to start afresh, but the appeal has waned for UK residents who started arriving in greater numbers after last year's Brexit referendum, the latest data from Statistics suggests.
Immigration has hit a new annual high, with 129,800 migrants arriving in New Zealand in the year to April.
Annual net migration, which is more closely watched by economists, stood at 71,900 – the same level recorded in March.
That was because the number of people leaving the country with the intention of doing so permanently also edged up, to 57,900.
New Zealand was now losing residents to the UK, with a net outflow of 79 migrants in the month of April, ASB Bank noted.
"While a very low number, it does reverse the trend of New Zealand gaining UK residents in the wake of last year's shock Brexit decision," it said.
South Africa continued to be a strong source of net arrivals, with "a combination of push and pull factors" increasingly making New Zealand a popular choice for South Africans, the bank said.
Almost one in five migrants over the past year were students, Statistics NZ senior manager Peter Dolan said.
The number of student arrivals dropped by 3800, entirely due to fall in the number of Indians coming to New Zealand to study. About three-quarters of student arrivals were from Asia and most, 57 per cent, intended to settle in Auckland.
ASB didn't see the migration figures having an impact on interest rates, saying it expected the Reserve Bank to keep interest rates on hold at 1.75 per cent "for the foreseeable future".
Strong net migration would continue to support overall economic growth, even though migration was likely to soften over time, it said.
Previous forecasts that net migration would peak at about the middle of last year proved incorrect.
Figures released last week estimated that spending by international visitors in New Zealand dropped slightly to $10 billion in the year to March, but Statistics NZ believed the medium and long term trend remained upwards.