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Summary results

Tourism plays a significant role in the New Zealand economy in terms of the production of goods and services and the creation of employment opportunities. Tourism expenditure includes spending by all travellers, whether they are international, resident householders, or business and government travellers. International tourism expenditure includes spending by foreign students studying in New Zealand for less than 12 months.

Key results for the year ended March 2012 are:

  • Total tourism expenditure was $23.4 billion, an increase of 2.4 percent from the previous year.
  • International tourism expenditure increased 1.6 percent ($149 million) to $9.6 billion and contributed 15.4 percent to New Zealand’s total exports of goods and services.
  • Domestic tourism expenditure increased 3.0 percent ($397 million) to $13.8 billion.
  • Tourism generated a direct contribution to GDP of $6.2 billion, or 3.3 percent of GDP.
  • The indirect value added of industries supporting tourism generated an additional $9.7 billion for tourism, or 5.2 percent of GDP.
  • The tourism industry directly employed 119,800 full-time equivalents (FTEs) (or 6.2 percent of total employment in New Zealand), a decrease of 0.7 percent from the previous year.
  • Tourists generated $1.3 billion in goods and services tax (GST) revenue.
  • Overseas visitor arrivals to New Zealand increased 4.4 percent in the year ended March 2012, driven largely by visitors to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Key events that influenced tourism activity in the year ended March 2012 included the hosting of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the impact of the devastating February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, ash from the Chilean volcano disrupting air travel, and the ongoing effects of the global financial crisis. Tourism Satellite Account: 2012 does not separately identify the impact on tourism expenditure at both a domestic and international level for these events.

Tourism Satellite Account: 2012 incorporates the new industry classification, Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification 2006 (ANZSIC06), which better represents the current economy. This has resulted in a change in the composition of tourism industries and commodities, and has led to revisions to expenditure and employment measures throughout the official time series back to 1999.

Figure 1 traces the flows of tourism expenditure through the New Zealand economy for the year ended March 2012. It shows the value tourism adds to the New Zealand economy, both directly and indirectly, the GST received by government, the imports of goods and services, and direct and indirect employment.

Figure 1

Flows of tourism expenditure through the New Zealand economy, year ended March 2012.  

Key results by topic for the year ended March 2012

Tourism expenditure

Total tourism expenditure increased 2.4 percent to $23.4 billion, the fourth-lowest increase since the official tourism expenditure time series began in 1999 (see table 1).

Tourism expenditure generated $6.2 billion of direct value added, representing a 3.3 percent contribution to GDP. A further $9.7 billion of indirect value added activity was recorded (see table 1 and figure 2).

Table 1 

Tourism expenditure by components, year ended March 1999 to 2012.  

Figure 2

Tourism expenditure by component, year ended March 2002–12.

Direct and indirect tourism value added, when combined, accounted for 68 cents for every dollar spent by tourists, while GST accounted for 6 cents for every dollar spent by tourists. The remainder represents imports (see figure 3).

Figure 3

Share of tourism expenditure by component, year ended March 2012.

The main products purchased by tourists were retail goods (including fuel and other automotive products) and air passenger transport, contributing 34 percent and 18 percent, respectively (before GST). Tourists spent 12 percent of their budget on food and beverage serving services and 9 percent on accommodation services (see figure 4).

Figure 4

Share of tourism expenditure by type of product, year ended March 2012.

International tourism expenditure increased 1.6 percent while domestic tourism expenditure increased 3.0 percent (see table 2 and figure 5).

Table 2

Tourism expenditure by type of tourist, year ended March 1999–2012.

Figure 5

Tourism expenditure by type of tourist, year ended March 2002–12.

Exports

International tourism continued to be a major export earner for New Zealand compared with other traditional export products (see table 3 and figure 6).

In the year ended March 2012, international tourism’s contribution to total exports was $9.6 billion (15.4 percent of exports), the lowest share since the official time series began in 1999. It also remained lower than the export receipts from dairy products, including casein, which totalled $12.7 billion (20.4 percent of exports).

Note that international tourism is compared against primary exports in figure 6.

Table 3

International tourist expenditure compared with selected primary exports, year ended March 2009–12.

Figure 6

International tourism expenditure compared with selected primary exports, year ended March 2009–12.

Employment

The tourism industry directly employed 119,800 full-time equivalents (FTEs), a decrease of 0.7 percent from the previous year (see table 4).

Tourism activity directly generated 6.2 percent of total employment in New Zealand (see table 4). This compares with tourism generating 3.3 percent of direct value added to GDP. The fact that tourism contributes more to total employment than it does to direct value added reflects a higher level of labour intensity in tourism industries.

Table 4

Tourism employment, year ended March 2001–12 

Overseas visitor arrivals

Table 5 presents the breakdown of international visitors by region of last permanent residence and by purpose of visit for the years ended March 2009–12.

Table 5

Overseas visitor arrivals, year ended March 2009–12.  
The number of international visitors increased 4.4 percent (111,291), following an increase of 0.3 percent in the previous year. Visitor numbers from Oceania and Antarctica, Asia, Europe, and the ‘other’ visitor category increased, while visitor numbers from the Americas fell.

The number of visitors from Oceania and Antarctica increased 5.4 percent (67,569), following a 0.6 percent decrease the previous year. The number of visitors from the Americas decreased for the fourth consecutive year.

Much of the increase in short-term arrivals to New Zealand was due to visitors taking holidays (up 29,587 or 2.5 percent) and visiting friends and relatives (up 74,363 or 9.6 percent). Both of these categories decreased the previous year. The ‘other’ visitor category rose 14.0 percent, most likely due to people arriving for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The number of short-term visitors arriving for conferences/conventions or education/medical reasons decreased 14.0 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.

In the context of the TSA, the term ‘tourist’ includes travellers who might not usually be associated with the term. For instance, in addition to holiday and leisure travel, it covers other visitor activities, such as conducting business, attending meetings and conferences, and arriving for short-term education. Domestic costs incurred by New Zealanders travelling overseas (such as resident travel agency commissions) are included in domestic travel expenditure, as well as off-trip purchases of tourism-specific consumer durable goods (such as sleeping bags).

Key events that influenced tourism for the years ended March 2009–12

The following is a summary of key events that influenced the tourism industry in New Zealand in the March years 2009–12:

  • The 2011 Rugby World Cup occurred in the March 2012 year, though the expenditure impact of this event is not separately identifiable.
  • Ash from the eruption of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano in Chile disrupted air travel in the March 2012 year.
  • A damaging earthquake struck the Canterbury region in September 2010, followed by a devastating earthquake in February 2011 in Christchurch. The expenditure implications/impacts of these events are not separately identifiable.
  • The global financial crisis contributed to a decline in economic activity, including that of tourism in the March 2009 and March 2010 years.
  • Air New Zealand purchased a stake in Virgin Australia in the March 2011 year and acquired an additional stake in the March 2012 year.
  • Air Asia introduced low-cost flights between Kuala Lumpur and Christchurch beginning April 2011.
  • Pacific Blue exited the domestic aviation market in the March 2011 year. Jetstar introduced low-cost flights between Singapore and New Zealand beginning March 2011.
  • Swine flu, or the influenza A(H1N1) pandemic, caused instability in the international travel environment in the March 2010 year.
  • Cheap trans-Tasman airfares and a high New Zealand dollar maintained the strong growth in the number of New Zealanders holidaying in Australia and other overseas destinations.
  • Annual visitor arrivals from Australia exceeded 1 million for the first time in 2009.
  • Statistics NZ’s Accommodation Survey recorded 31.7 million guest nights spent in short-term commercial accommodation in the year ended March 2012, a 0.5 percent decrease compared with the year ended March 2011. This follows a decrease of 1.3 percent in the year ended March 2011 and an increase of 2.0 percent in the year ended March 2010.
  • The Easter holidays did not fall in the year ended March 2012, fell within the 2011 and 2010 years, but did not fall within the March 2009 year.
  • More than 50 films and telefeatures were filmed completely, or in part, in New Zealand between the March years of 2009 and 2012.
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