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Summary results

Tourism plays a significant role in the New Zealand economy in terms of producing goods and services and creating 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 2015 are:

  • Total tourism expenditure was $29.8 billion, an increase of 10.3 percent from the previous year.
  • International tourism expenditure increased 17.1 percent ($1.7 billion) to $11.8 billion, and contributed 17.4 percent to New Zealand’s total exports of goods and services.
  • Domestic tourism expenditure increased 6.3 percent ($1.1 billion) to $18.1 billion.
  • Tourism generated a direct contribution to GDP of $10.6 billion, or 4.9 percent of GDP.
  • The indirect value added of industries supporting tourism generated an additional $7.9 billion for tourism, or 3.6 percent of GDP.
  • 168,012 people were directly employed in tourism (6.9 percent of the total number of people employed in New Zealand), an increase of 5.0 percent from the previous year.
  • Tourists generated $2.5 billion in goods and services tax (GST) revenue.
  • Overseas visitor arrivals to New Zealand increased 7.1 percent.

Revisions

The Tourism Satellite Account: 2015 includes revisions made to the derivation of both the domestic and international tourism expenditure series. These revisions have caused changes to the value of tourism expenditure in the New Zealand economy, and affected the official TSA time series back to 1999.

Revisions to the domestic expenditure series reflect:

  • the introduction of an administrative data source based on electronic card transaction data, the Household Tourism Expenditure Estimates (HTEE)
  • methodological improvements to how we derive imputed rental on holiday homes
  • refinements made to business and government tourism expenditure proportions.

We also revised international tourism expenditure for 2014, after the International Visitor Survey (IVS) adopted an improved outlier detection and treatment methodology. Earlier revisions reflect changes to source data used to derive both international tourist and international student expenditure.

We have incorporated changes reflecting the implementation of the System of National Accounts 2008 (2008SNA).

 Tourism industry ratios have changed because of these revisions. These ratios are the proportion of an industry’s output that is consumed by tourists and are used to calculate value added and tourism employment estimates. As a result of the ratio changes, we have revised the value added time series back to 1999. Together with the ratio changes, we have revised and extended the employment and tourism employment time series back to 2000. This reflects the introduction of the administrative-based data source Linked Employer-Employee Data (LEED).

Figure 1 traces the flows of tourism expenditure through the New Zealand economy for the year ended March 2015. 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

Figure, Flows of tourism expenditure through the New Zealand economy, year ended March 2015.

Key results by topic for the year ended March 2015

Tourism expenditure

Total tourism expenditure increased 10.3 percent to $29.8 billion, following an increase of 4.0 percent in the March 2014 year.

Tourism expenditure generated $10.6 billion of direct value added, representing a 4.9 percent contribution to GDP. A further $7.9 billion of indirect value added activity was recorded (see table 1).

Download tables 1–14 (Excel, 16 sheets, 335kb) 

Direct and indirect tourism value added, when combined, accounted for 62 cents for every dollar spent by tourists, while GST accounted for 8 cents for every dollar spent by tourists. The remainder represents imports (see figure 2).

Figure 2

Graph, Share of tourism expenditure by component, year ended March 2015.

Tourism expenditure by type of tourist

International tourism expenditure increased 17.1 percent, and domestic tourism expenditure increased 6.3 percent (see table 2 and figure 3).

Download tables 1–14 (Excel, 16 sheets, 335kb

Figure 3

Graph, Tourism expenditure by type of tourist, year ended March 2006 to 2015.

Exports

International tourism continued to be a major export earner for New Zealand compared with other traditional export products (see table 3 and figure 4).

In the year ended March 2015, international tourism’s contribution to total exports was $11.8 billion (17.4 percent of exports). It remains behind the export receipts from dairy products, including casein, which totalled $14.2 billion (21.0 percent of exports).

Note that international tourism is compared against selected primary exports.

Download tables 1–14 (Excel, 16 sheets, 335kb)

Figure 4

Graph, International tourism expenditure compared with selected primary exports, year ended March 2012 to 2015.  

International student expenditure less than 12 months

Included in international tourism expenditure is the component of international students studying in New Zealand for less than 12 months (consistent with the definition of a tourist). Expenditure by international students studying for less than 12 months comprises course fees, living costs, and airfares on resident airlines.

In the year ended March 2015 expenditure was $2.2 billion, an increase of 13.8 percent (see table 4 and figure 5).

Note that the calculation of international students’ expenditure less than 12 months differs from that of education exports derived by Balance of Payments, reflecting conceptual differences.

Download tables 1–14 (Excel, 16 sheets, 335kb) 

Figure 5

Graph, International student expenditure less than 12 months and international tourism expenditure, year ended March 2012 to 2015.

Employment

In the year ended March 2015, tourism directly employed 168,012 people (see table 5 and figure 6).

Tourism activity directly generated 6.9 percent of total employment in New Zealand (see table 5). This compares with tourism generating 4.9 percent of direct value added to GDP (see table 1). 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.

Download tables 1–14 (Excel, 16 sheets, 335kb) 

Figure 6

Graph, Number of people employed in tourism, year ended March 2006 to 2015.  

Overseas visitor arrivals

Table 6 presents the breakdown of international visitors by region of last permanent residence and by purpose of visit for the years ended March 2012–15 (see figure 7).

Download tables 1–14 (Excel, 16 sheets, 335kb) 

Figure 7
Graph, Overseas visitor arrivals by region of residence, year ended March 2012 to 2015.

The number of international visitors increased 7.1 percent (195,644), following an increase of 5.4 percent in the previous year. Visitor numbers from Asia and the Americas experienced the strongest growth. The ‘other’ category recorded a decrease.

The number of visitors from Asia increased 18.5 percent (106,368), following an 8.8 percent increase the previous year. Visitor numbers from the Americas increased 7.5 percent (21,360), and visitor numbers from Europe increased 5.1 percent (22,000).

The increase in short-term visitor arrivals to New Zealand was due to the number of visitors in the categories:

  • holiday – up 9.9 percent (128,960)
  • visiting friends and relatives – up 5.0 percent (43,488)
  • ‘other’ – up 8.6 percent (16,576).

The education visitor category also increased strongly, by 9.7 percent (5,168). Only the conferences and conventions visitor category decreased, falling 0.8 percent (448).

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 years ended March 2012–15

The following is a summary of key events that influenced the tourism industry in New Zealand in the March years 2012–15:

  • New Zealand jointly hosted the 2015 Cricket World Cup in the March 2015 year, though we cannot separately identify this event’s effect on expenditure.
  • New Zealand hosted a royal tour by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the March 2015 year.
  • Significant changes to flights in the year ended March 2015 included:
    • Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines entered into an alliance, with increased flights between New Zealand and Singapore from January 2015.
    • China Eastern Airlines commenced direct flights between Shanghai and Auckland for the period December 2014 to March 2015.
    • Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia increased trans-Tasman services to Queenstown and Christchurch for the November to March season.
    • Singapore Airlines increased the number of flights to Christchurch during the summer holiday season.
    • Air New Zealand took delivery of its first 787-9 Dreamliner, which commenced Auckland–Perth services in December 2014.
    • Qantas commenced a seasonal service from Auckland to Perth in December 2014.
    • China Southern Airlines increased flights between Guangzhou and Auckland for the October to March 2015 period.
    • China Airlines commenced seasonal flights between Christchurch–Sydney–Taipei during the period December 2014 to March 2015.
    • China Airlines increased flights in its Taipei–Brisbane–Auckland route during the peak New Zealand summer period.
    • Jetstar commenced services between Wellington and Gold Coast, and Wellington and Melbourne.
  • The third film of the Hobbit trilogy was released in the March 2015 year. The second film of the Hobbit trilogy was released in the March 2014 year, and the world premiere of the first Hobbit film took place in New Zealand in the March 2013 year.
  • Cruise liner and cruise passenger visits grew strongly in the March 2012–15 years.
  • The framework Tourism 2025 – Growing Value Together Whakatipu Uara Ngatahi was launched. Its goal is annual tourism expenditure of $41 billion by 2025.
  • Significant changes to flights in the year ended March 2014 included:
    • Emirates started flying a third A380 to Auckland, servicing its Dubai–Brisbane–Auckland route.
    • China Southern Airlines started flying Boeing Dreamliners on its Guangzhou–Auckland route. It provided two additional return flights to Auckland and one to Christchurch during the 2014 Chinese New Year (February) celebrations. It increased its Guangzhou–Auckland service from seven to 10 weekly flights.
    • Air New Zealand reduced its Auckland–Osaka service from year-round to seasonal, as did Korean Air for its Auckland–Seoul service.
    • Thai Airways reduced some of its services to Bangkok.
    • Qantas announced it would reduce its weekly services to Melbourne and Sydney.
    • Air New Zealand commenced a seasonal Perth–Christchurch service in December 2013.
    • Singapore Airlines added two flights a week to Christchurch from early December 2013 to cater for the peak summer period.
    • Jetstar, Qantas, Air New Zealand, and Virgin Australia increased the frequency and capacity of their trans-Tasman flights to Queenstown.
    • Jetstar withdrew its Wellington–Queenstown service, and made its Auckland–Christchurch service more frequent.
    • An extension of Air New Zealand's trans-Tasman alliance with Virgin Australia was granted.
  • Visitors from China exceed 200,000 for the first time in the March 2013 year.
  • Significant changes to flights in the year ended March 2013 included:
    • Air New Zealand stopped services between Beijing and Auckland and increased services between Shanghai and Auckland.
    • Hawaiian Airlines began direct services between Honolulu and Auckland.
    • Jetstar acquired more aircraft and increased domestic and trans-Tasman services.
    • Qantas stopped services between Los Angeles and Auckland.
    • China Southern Airlines began direct services between Guangzhou and Auckland in the year ended March 2012.
  • New Zealand hosted the 2011 Rugby World Cup in the March 2012 year, though we cannot separately identify this event’s effect on expenditure.
  • Ash from the eruption of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano in Chile disrupted air travel in the March 2012 year.
  • Air New Zealand acquired additional stakes Virgin Australia in the March 2011, March 2014, and March 2015 years.
  • Air Asia introduced low-cost flights between Kuala Lumpur and Christchurch beginning April 2011, and discontinued services in May 2012.
  • During the March years 2012–15, cheap trans-Tasman airfares, increased services and a high New Zealand dollar maintained the strong growth in the number of New Zealanders holidaying in Australia and other overseas destinations.
  • Statistics NZ’s Accommodation Survey recorded 35.2 million guest nights spent in short-term commercial accommodation in the year ended March 2015, a 6.3 percent increase compared with the year ended March 2014. This follows an increase of 4.2 percent in the year ended March 2014 and an increase of 0.2 percent in the year ended March 2013.
  • The Easter holidays did not occur during the years ended March 2015 and 2014, and occurred twice in the year ended March 2013, as in 2012 Easter was later than usual (in April).
  • More than 50 films and telefeatures were filmed completely, or in part, in New Zealand between the March years of 2012 and 2015. 
     
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