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International Travel and Migration: February 2011
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  13 April 2011
Commentary

Delayed release of international travel and migration statistics

The Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011 disrupted the processing of international travel and migration statistics. Most of the processing is usually undertaken in Statistics New Zealand's Christchurch office, which was damaged in the February earthquake.

Processing has resumed, but the disruption has delayed the release of international travel and migration statistics from the dates originally published. Updates on release dates are provided on Statistics NZ's homepage, www.stats.govt.nz, or can be obtained by contacting Strategic Communications on (Wellington) 04 931 4630 or by emailing communication@stats.govt.nz

The monthly International Visitor Arrivals to New Zealand report for February 2011 is scheduled for release on 15 April 2011. Future reports will continue to be released two working days after each international travel and migration release. The weekly release of provisional international travel statistics has resumed, but is also further behind the date of reference than normal.

Visitor arrivals

Monthly visitor arrivals

Short-term overseas visitor arrivals to New Zealand numbered 268,300 in February 2011, just above the February 2010 total of 267,900. An increase in arrivals to visit friends and relatives after the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February contributed to the higher figure. Between 22 and 28 February 2011, 2,300 more people arrived to visit friends and relatives compared with the same days in 2010.

Arrivals to visit friends and relatives were up 3,000 for the month of February 2011. There were also more arrivals for business (1,900) and conventions/conferences (up 1,100). Arrivals for a holiday were down 7,900 compared with February 2010, with decreases both before and after the 22 February earthquake.

Further detail on the impact of the February 2011 earthquake on visitor arrivals will be available when data by airport is released on 15 April 2011. This data will be freely accessible through Statistics NZ's Infoshare database, www.stats.govt.nz/infoshare (under the subject category of Tourism then International Travel and Migration). Visitor arrivals by airport are also published in the International Visitor Arrivals to New Zealand report, also available from 15 April. 

Monthly visitors by source country

In February 2011, more visitors arrived from Australia (up 2,300) and China (up 1,000) than in February 2010. The increase from China in February 2011 came despite an earlier Chinese New Year holiday period, which boosted arrivals in January 2011. Combined January and February 2011 figures show that visitor arrivals from China were up 6,200 compared with the same months of 2010.

Fewer visitors arrived from the United Kingdom (down 4,100) in February 2011, continuing declines seen in almost every month since April 2007. There were also fewer visitors from Taiwan (down 1,500).

Graph, Visitors from China, month of February, 2007–11.   Graph, Visitors from the United Kingdom, month of February, 2007–11.

Annual visitor arrivals

Annual visitor arrivals to New Zealand numbered 2.534 million in the year ended February 2011, up 52,000 (2 percent) from 2010 (2.482 million).

Almost half of all visitors in the February 2011 year arrived for a holiday (1.213 million). Another 781,100 arrived to visit friends and relatives, and 251,600 arrived for business purposes.

Graph, Annual visitor arrivals, year ended February, 2002–11.   Graph, Visitor arrivals by reason, year ended February, 2010–11.

Compared with the February 2010 year, there were more visitor arrivals from China (up 26,500), Australia (up 24,500), Korea (up 13,000), Japan (up 9,400), and India (up 4,300).

Fewer visitors arrived from the United Kingdom (down 29,500), the United States (down 7,900), and Ireland (down 3,300).

Detailed tables about visitor arrivals

The International Visitor Arrivals to New Zealand report, released monthly, contains detailed tables about the number and characteristics of visitor arrivals to New Zealand. The February 2011 report will be available from 15 April 2011 and accessible from the International Visitor Arrivals to New Zealand homepage on the Statistics NZ website (www.stats.govt.nz).

Departures of New Zealand residents

Monthly resident departures

New Zealand residents departed on 103,500 short-term overseas trips in February 2011, just below the 104,000 trips in February 2010. 

New Zealand residents took fewer trips to China (down 1,400) in February 2011, compared with February 2010. This was partly due to an earlier Chinese New Year, with departures to China to visit friends and relatives up in January 2011 and down in February 2011. 

Short-term departures of Christchurch residents between the 22nd (the day of the Christchurch earthquake) and the 28th of February 2011 were up 700 compared with the same days of February 2010. For the rest of February, before the earthquake, departures of Christchurch residents were slightly below the same period in 2010.

 Graph, Monthly New Zealand-resident short-term departures, February 2001–11.

Annual resident departures

Short-term departures of New Zealand residents in the February 2011 year numbered 2.037 million, up 109,400 (6 percent) from the February 2010 year.

Almost half of all trips in the year ended February 2011 were to Australia (978,100), with the next most popular destinations the United States (99,600), Fiji (97,300), the United Kingdom (92,000), China (63,700), the Cook Islands (60,400), and Samoa (43,900).

A holiday was the main travel purpose for 820,900 New Zealand residents who departed in the February 2011 year, up 6 percent from the previous year. Another 693,600 departed to visit friends and relatives (up 4 percent). Departures for business purposes (290,700) were up 11 percent from the February 2010 year.

Graph, Annual resident departures, year ended February, 2002–11.   Graph, Resident departures by reason, year ended February, 2010–11.

Permanent and long-term migration

Definition

Permanent and long-term (PLT) arrivals include people who arrive in New Zealand intending to stay for a period of 12 months or more (or permanently), plus New Zealand residents returning after an absence of 12 months or more. PLT arrivals may include people with New Zealand residency, as well as students and holders of work permits. PLT departures include New Zealand residents departing for an intended period of 12 months or more (or permanently), plus overseas visitors departing New Zealand after a stay of 12 months or more.

Monthly PLT migration

Seasonally adjusted net PLT migration was 500 in February 2011. In the last 12 months, this series varied between a low of 200 (in June 2010) and a high of 1,000 (in September 2010).

Unadjusted PLT arrivals outnumbered departures by 2,200 in February 2011, down from 2,600 in February 2010. The main contributor to the decrease was 1,000 more departures by New Zealand citizens to Australia. This was partly offset by 600 more arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens.

There was an increase in PLT departures from Christchurch city after the earthquake on 22 February. PLT departures from Christchurch in the last five days of February numbered 148 (unrounded figure), up from 81 in the last five days of February 2010. In contrast, the 354 PLT departures from Christchurch between 1 and 23 February 2011 were down from 387 for the same dates in 2010.

In February 2011, there were net inflows of migrants from India (900), China (800), the United Kingdom, and Malaysia (each 500). The net outflow of 3,000 PLT migrants to Australia was up from 1,900 in February 2010, but below the February 2008 outflow of 3,500.

Annual PLT migration

Net migration was 8,200 in the year ended February 2011 compared with 21,600 in the February 2010 year. The 82,800 PLT arrivals in the February 2011 year were down 2 percent from 2010. The 74,500 PLT departures were up 18 percent.

Graph, Annual PLT migration, February 1996–2011.   Graph, Annual net PLT migration, February 1996–2011.


The net PLT migration gain of 8,200 in the February 2011 year was below the annual average gain for the December years 1991–2010 (12,000). Net PLT migration varied substantially within this 20-year period. The net gain peaked at 30,200 in the April 1996 year and again at 42,500 in the May 2003 year. Net outflows were experienced during most of 1998–2001, with the largest a net loss of 13,200 people in the February 2001 year.

Annual PLT migration by country

In the February 2011 year, the highest net inflow of migrants was from India (6,000). This was followed by the United Kingdom (5,100), and China (4,000).

The net PLT outflow to Australia was 23,500 in the February 2011 year, between the outflows in 2009 (34,400) and 2010 (15,400). The latest net outflow saw 39,200 departures to Australia offset by 15,700 arrivals from Australia. In both directions, most migrants were New Zealand citizens.

Annual PLT migration by citizenship

There was a net outflow of 23,900 New Zealand citizens in the February 2011 year – this was between the 2009 outflow of 35,200 and the 2010 outflow of 12,800. The net inflow of 32,100 non-New Zealand citizens is the lowest for a February year since 2005 (31,000).

PLT arrivals of New Zealand citizens numbered 24,400 in the February 2011 year, above the average of 23,500 recorded for the 1979–2010 December years, but below the peaks of the March 1991 year (29,600) and the October 2003 year (27,800). Arrivals of New Zealand citizens tend to show relatively little variation year-to-year, and the variation that does occur often follows trends in departures of New Zealand citizens a few years earlier.

PLT departures of New Zealand citizens have shown much more annual variation than arrivals of New Zealand citizens. The highest number of departures of New Zealand citizens was 64,300 in the October 1979 year, but by the January 1984 year, this had decreased to a low of 24,400. PLT departures of New Zealand citizens numbered 48,300 in the year ended February 2011.

 Graph, Annual PLT migration of New Zealand citizens, March 1979 year onwards.

PLT arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens were less than 30,000 a year between 1979 and 1992, then doubled to reach a peak of 58,800 in the July 1996 year. Another peak of 72,800 was reached in the February 2003 year. The changes in arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens reflect changes in arrivals of temporary workers (including working holidaymakers) and overseas students staying for 12 months or more; as well as arrivals for residence. The 58,300 non-New Zealand citizen arrivals in the year ended February 2011 were just below the 58,500 arrivals in the previous year.

PLT departures of non-New Zealand citizens have generally been increasing since 1984, corresponding with the general increase in arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens. In the February 2011 year, there were 26,200 PLT departures of non-New Zealand citizens, up from 24,100 in the February 2010 year.

 Graph, Annual PLT migration of non-New Zealand citizens, March 1979 year onwards.

Annual PLT migration by visa type

In the February 2011 year, 28,600 PLT arrivals were Australian or New Zealand citizens. Of the remaining 54,200 migrants, most arrived on:

  • work visas (20,000)
  • student visas (16,600)
  • residence visas (12,800)
  • visitor visas (4,100).

Compared with 2010, fewer migrants arrived on the following visa types: work (down 1,000), residence (down 600), and visitor (down 100); more migrants arrived on student visas (up 1,200).

Recent international travel and migration articles

Statistics NZ has recently released a number of International travel and migration articles that can be accessed on the Statistics NZ website (www.stats.govt.nz). The most recent articles are:

February 2011 Travel and migration to and from India, 1990–2010 examines permanent and long-term (PLT) migration and short-term travel to and from India. India is an increasingly important source and destination country.
January 2011

An introduction to international migration by region: 1996–2010 includes a discussion of data quality, followed by sections of analysis that highlight key features of migration to and from New Zealand's regions.

September 2010

New Zealand's International Migration Statistics, 1922–2009 follows on from an article released in April 2010, which looked at migration statistics from 1860 to 1921.


For technical information contact:
Nicholas Thomson
Auckland 09 920 9100
Email: demography@stats.govt.nz

Next release ...

International Travel and Migration: March 2011 – date to be advised.

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