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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 provisional estimates for the year ended March 2016:

  • Total tourism expenditure was $34.7 billion, an increase of 12.2 percent from the previous year.
  • International tourism expenditure increased 19.6 percent ($2.4 billion) to $14.5 billion, and contributed 20.7 percent to New Zealand’s total exports of goods and services.
  • Domestic tourism expenditure increased 7.4 percent ($1.4 billion) to $20.2 billion.
  • Tourism generated a direct contribution to GDP of $12.9 billion, or 5.6 percent of GDP.
  • The indirect value added of industries supporting tourism generated an additional $9.8 billion for tourism, or 4.3 percent of GDP.
  • 188,136 people were directly employed in tourism (7.5 percent of the total number of people employed in New Zealand), an increase of 3.7 percent from the previous year.
  • Tourists generated $2.8 billion in goods and services tax (GST) revenue.
  • Overseas visitor arrivals to New Zealand increased 10.4 percent.

Revisions

The Tourism Satellite Account: 2016 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 expenditure series reflect:

  • methodological refinements to the Household Tourism Expenditure Estimates (HTEE) data sources including the incorporation of 2015 Annual Enterprise Survey (AES) data
  • changes to source data used to derive international student expenditure from 2004
  • methodological improvements made in 2015 to national accounts and nominal GDP statistics.

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 the tourism employment time series back to 2000.

Figure 1 traces the flows of tourism expenditure through the New Zealand economy for the year ended March 2016. 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.

Key results by topic for the year ended March 2016

Tourism expenditure

Total tourism expenditure increased 12.2 percent to $34.7 billion, following an increase of 10.3 percent in the March 2015 year.

Tourism expenditure generated $12.9 billion of direct value added, representing a 5.6 percent contribution to GDP. A further $9.8 billion of indirect value added activity was recorded (see table 1).

Download tables 1–16 (Excel, 16 sheets, 154kb)

Direct and indirect tourism value added, when combined, accounted for 65 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

Figure, Share of tourism expenditure by component.

Tourism expenditure by type of tourist

International tourism expenditure increased 19.6 percent, and domestic tourism expenditure increased 7.4 percent (see table 2 and figure 3).

Download tables 1–16 (Excel, 16 sheets, 154kb)

Figure 3

Graph, Tourism expenditure by type of tourist.

Exports

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

In the year ended March 2016, international tourism’s contribution to total exports was $14.5 billion (20.7 percent of exports). It has surpassed the export receipts from dairy products, including casein which totalled $12.3 billion (17.6 percent of exports) for the first time since 2010.

Note that international tourism is compared against selected primary exports.

Download tables 1–16 (Excel, 16 sheets, 154kb)

Figure 4

Grap, International tourism expenditure compared with selected primary exports.

International student expenditure – studying 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 2016, expenditure was $2.7 billion, an increase of 8.6 percent (see table 4 and figure 5). The number of short-term arrivals for education purposes (studying for less than 12 months) increased 7.0 percent (see table 6).

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

Download tables 1–16 (Excel, 16 sheets, 154kb)


Figure 5

Graph, International student expenditure – studying less than 12 months and international tourism expenditure.

Employment

In the year ended March 2016, tourism directly employed 188,136 people (see table 5 and figure 6).

Tourism activity directly generated 7.5 percent of total employment in New Zealand (see table 5). This compares with tourism generating 5.6 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 1–16 (Excel, 16 sheets, 154kb)

Figure 6

Graph, Number of people employed in tourism.

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 2013–16 (see figure 7).

Download tables 1–16 (Excel, 16 sheets, 154kb)


Figure 7
Graph, Overseas visitor arrivals by region of residence.

The number of international visitors increased 10.4 percent (307,562), following an increase of 7.1 percent in the previous year. Visitor numbers from Asia and the Americas experienced the strongest increases, for the second consecutive year.

The number of visitors from Asia increased 19.5 percent (133,072), following an 18.5 percent increase the previous year. Visitor numbers from the Americas increased 13.4 percent (41,168), and visitor numbers from Europe increased 8.0 percent (35,920).

By purpose of visit, short-term visitor arrivals to New Zealand increased for the following categories:

  • holiday – up 15.3 percent (219,824 arrivals)
  • visiting friends and relatives – up 6.6 percent (60,576)
  • conference and conventions – up 7.1 percent (4,096)
  • business – up 4.0 percent (10,752)
  • education – up 7.0 percent (4,080).

Table 7 presents the breakdown of international visitors by selected country of last permanent residence for the years ended March 2013–16 (see figure 8).

Download tables 1–16 (Excel, 16 sheets, 154kb)

Figure 8
Graph, Selected visitor arrivals by country of reidence.

By country of last permanent residence, the majority of short-term visitor arrivals to New Zealand originated from these selected markets:

  • Australia – up 7.2 percent (91,584 arrivals)
  • China – up 27.8 percent (82,288)
  • United States of America – up 11.8 percent (26,832)
  • United Kingdom – up 7.0 percent (14,032)
  • Japan – up 9.5 percent (7,952)
  • Germany – up 11.5 percent (9,344).

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 outdoor items and equipment).

Table 8 presents the breakdown of guest nights, sourced from the Accommodation Survey, for the years ended March 2013–16 (see figure 9).

In the year ended March 2016, 37.2 million guest nights were spent in short-term commercial accommodation, a 5.7 percent increase compared with the year ended March 2015. This follows an increase of 6.3 percent in the year ended March 2015 and an increase of 4.2 percent in the year ended March 2014. The percentage increase in international guest nights has exceeded that of domestic for the last three years.

Download tables 1–16 (Excel, 16 sheets, 154kb)

Figure 9

Graph, New Zealand guest nights.

Key events that influenced tourism for years ended March 2013–16

The following is a summary of key events that influenced the tourism industry in New Zealand in the March years 2013–16:

  • Significant changes to flights in the year ended March 2016 included:
    • China Eastern Airlines launched year-round flights between Auckland and Shanghai.
    • AirAsia X launched flights from Kuala Lumpur via the Gold Coast to Auckland.
    • Emirates commenced a non-stop service between Dubai and Auckland, the longest non-stop scheduled flight in the world.
    • Air China commenced a daily service between Beijing and Auckland in partnership with Air New Zealand.
    • Philippine Airlines commenced a service from Manila via Cairns to Auckland.
    • Air New Zealand launched a direct service from Auckland to Houston.
    • China Southern Airlines commenced year-round double-daily flights from Guangzhou to Auckland.
    • Fiji Airways commenced flights between Nadi and Wellington.
    • Air New Zealand introduced new seasonal flights between Perth and Auckland over the summer–autumn period.
    • Air New Zealand launched a direct service from Auckland to Buenos Aires. 
    • Air New Zealand operated a daily return service between Auckland and Vancouver over the peak northern winter period.
    • Air New Zealand, in conjunction with Virgin Australia, operated a seasonal Sunshine Coast service between Auckland and Maroochydore over the summer period.
    • Qantas operated additional services across the Tasman during early spring, primarily between Auckland and Sydney.
    • Qantas launched a seasonal Wellington to Brisbane service over the summer holiday period.
    • China Southern Airlines began direct flights between Guangzhou and Christchurch.
    • China Airlines expanded its summer service from Taipei via Sydney to Christchurch.
    • China Airlines launched a service from Taipei via Melbourne to Christchurch for the summer period.
    • Singapore Airlines operated additional flights from Singapore to Christchurch over the New Zealand summer period.
    • Qantas operated additional flights between Christchurch and Brisbane, and Christchurch and Sydney.
    • Jetstar operated additional trans-Tasman services over the Christmas holiday season, along with extra summer flights to Queenstown and Christchurch from Australia
    • Jetstar increased its services to Queenstown over the March to October period, including additional return services from Melbourne and Sydney, and a new Gold Coast service.
    • Qantas added extra seasonal services between Sydney and Queenstown and Brisbane and Queenstown.
    • Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia increased winter trans-Tasman services to Queenstown.
    • Jetstar launched a new regional network, with services between Auckland and Nelson; Auckland and Napier; Auckland and New Plymouth; Auckland and Palmerston North; and Wellington and Nelson.
    • Jetstar commenced services between Wellington and Dunedin.
    • Air New Zealand increased its total domestic capacity by approximately 650,000 seats, including:
      • around 180,000 more seats between Christchurch and Auckland
      • 110,000 more seats between Queenstown and Auckland
      • 135,000 more seats between Auckland and Wellington
      • 20,000 new seats between Christchurch and Queenstown.
    • Air New Zealand made changes to its regional network, with services no longer operating to Kaitaia, Whakatane, or Westport. Services between Whangarei and Wellington; Taupo and Wellington; Palmerston North and Nelson; and Hamilton and Auckland also ceased.
    • Air Chathams commenced twice-daily flights between Whakatane and Auckland.
    • Barrier Air (previously Great Barrier Airlines) began services between Kaitaia and Auckland.
    • Sounds Air commenced services between Westport and Wellington; Taupo and Wellington; and Napier and Blenheim.
  • Tourism New Zealand launched the latest evolution of its 100% Pure New Zealand campaign across international tourism markets.
  • Cruise liner and cruise passenger visits grew strongly in the March 2013–16 years.
  • The Easter public holidays occurred twice in the year ended March 2016, once in the year ended March 2015, did not occur during the year ended March 2014, and occurred twice in the year ended March 2013.
  • More than 50 films and telefeatures were filmed completely, or in part, in New Zealand between the March years of 2013 and 2016.
  • 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.
  • Air New Zealand acquired additional stakes in Virgin Australia in the March 2014 and March 2015 years.
  • 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.
  • The framework Tourism 2025 – Growing Value Together Whakatipu Uara Ngatahi was launched in March 2014. 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 exceeded 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.
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