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International Travel and Migration: July 2012
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  21 August 2012

July visitor arrivals lowest since 2007

Short-term overseas visitor arrivals to New Zealand numbered 173,500 in July 2012. This was down 1 percent from July 2011 (176,100) and the lowest for a July month since 2007 (173,000).

Graph, Monthly visitor arrivals, July 2002 to July 2012.  

Visitor arrivals by country of residence

The biggest changes in visitors by country of residence between July 2011 and July 2012 were in arrivals from:

  • China (up 2,400)
  • Japan (up 1,700)
  • Malaysia (down 700)
  • Korea (down 700)
  • the United Kingdom (down 1,600).

Visitors from Japan numbered 6,000 in July 2012, almost matching July 2010's total (6,500). Only 4,400 visitors arrived from Japan in July 2011, following the Christchurch and Japan earthquakes earlier that year.

Similarly, the 1,000 visitors from Malaysia in July 2012 equalled the July 2010 figure, after the July 2011 total (1,700) was boosted by short-lived direct flights between Kuala Lumpur and Christchurch.

Arrivals from the United Kingdom have decreased in most months since April 2007, just after the start of the global economic downturn. The London Olympics in July and August 2012 may also have affected outbound travel from the United Kingdom.

Visitor arrivals by travel purpose

The biggest changes in visitors by travel purpose between July 2011 and July 2012 were in arrivals for:

  • visiting friends and relatives (up 2,300)
  • conferences and conventions (down 1,200)
  • holidays (down 2,400).   

The increase in arrivals to visit friends and relatives was due to 2,900 more arrivals from Australia for this purpose. In contrast, 1,100 fewer holiday visitors arrived from Australia.

Despite the overall decrease in holiday visitors, more people arrived on holiday from China (up 2,100) and Japan (up 1,200). The latter was a recovery from an earthquake-affected 2011.

Annual visitor arrivals rise 6 percent

There were 2.633 million visitor arrivals to New Zealand in the July 2012 year. This was up 6 percent from the July 2011 year (2.494 million). The 2012 total was boosted by the Rugby World Cup, while 2011 was affected by the Christchurch earthquake in February and disruption to air travel in June because of ash from Chile's Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano.

The main changes in the July 2012 year were in visitors from:

  • Australia (up 67,600) 
  • China (up 44,600)
  • France (up 12,600)
  • Malaysia (up 8,100)
  • South Africa (up 7,800)
  • Japan (down 7,700).

The increases from France and South Africa were mainly due to the Rugby World Cup.

For more detailed data about visitor arrivals, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

School holiday shift affects the number of trips by New Zealand residents in July

New Zealand residents departed on 205,600 overseas trips in July 2012. This was less than the 231,600 trips in July 2011, but similar to the 208,000 trips in July 2010. The July 2011 total was boosted by school holidays being timed later because of the Rugby World Cup. 

  Graph, Monthly overseas trips by New Zealand residents, July 2002 to July 2012.

Overseas trips by country of main destination

The biggest changes in overseas trips by country of main destination (where the person will spend the most time when overseas) between July 2011 and July 2012 were in trips to:

  • Singapore (down 1,200)
  • France (down 1,300)
  • Malaysia (down 1,500)
  • the United States (down 1,800)
  • the United Kingdom (down 5,800)
  • Australia (down 8,400).

Although departures to Singapore and the United States were down from July 2011 due to the shift in school holidays, they remained well above July 2010 levels.  

Departures to Australia (88,000) were the lowest for a July month since 2003 (70,000).  

New Zealand residents take more overseas trips in the July 2012 year

Trips by New Zealand residents in the July 2012 year (2.128 million) rose 2 percent from the July 2011 year (2.090 million).

The biggest increase was in trips to the United States (up 12,700). Over recent decades, changes in the number of trips to the United States have followed changes in the exchange rate between the United States dollar and the New Zealand dollar.

In the July 2012 year, more trips were also made to India (up 5,200) and Thailand (up 3,400), but fewer were made to the United Kingdom (down 4,200).

For more detailed data on overseas trips by New Zealand residents, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

Net loss of 700 migrants in July follows net gain of 500 in June

Seasonally adjusted permanent and long-term (PLT) migration figures showed a net loss (an excess of departures over arrivals) of 700 migrants in July 2012. This follows net gains of 500 in June and 100 in May.

The recent fluctuation in net migration is mainly due to variation in monthly arrivals, caused by changes in the timing of school holidays. The mid-year holidays are a popular time for moves to New Zealand, and this seasonal increase can sometimes partly shift into June. In 2012, this resulted in a higher June figure and a lower July figure.

Graph, Monthly PLT arrivals, July 2007 to July 2012.  Graph, Monthly PLT departures, July 2007 to July 2012.

From next month, the monthly migration commentary below will be based on new seasonally adjusted series, instead of the unadjusted figures currently used. These new series will contain migration to and from Australia, as well as migration of New Zealand and non-New Zealand citizens. The series will also be included in a new Excel table (table 10) and in Infoshare

Unadjusted figures showed a net loss of 200 migrants in July 2012, compared with a net gain of 400 in July 2011. The main change was 600 fewer arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens, including 300 fewer on residence visas and 300 fewer on student visas.

In July 2012, there was a net gain of migrants from the following countries:

  • China (700) 
  • India (600) 
  • Germany (300).

There was a net loss of 3,200 migrants to Australia in July 2012, the same as in July 2011.

Fewer migrants arrive and more depart in the July 2012 year

There were 83,700 PLT arrivals in the July 2012 year, a decrease of 1 percent from the July 2011 year. PLT departures numbered 87,500, up 7 percent from the previous year. This resulted in a net loss of 3,800 migrants in the July 2012 year.

There have been annual net migration losses since the October 2011 year, peaking at 4,100 in the February 2012 year. New Zealand has experienced many periods of net migration loss. The highest net loss since the PLT migration series started (in April 1921) was 43,600 people in the July 1979 year.

New Zealand's net loss of migrants in the July 2012 year was due to a net loss of 39,800 people to Australia. This equals the highest ever net loss to Australia, recorded in both the April 2012 and June 2012 years. The July year figure resulted from 53,900 departures to Australia (a record), offset by 14,000 arrivals from Australia. In both directions, most migrants were New Zealand citizens.

There were net gains of migrants from most other countries in the July 2012 year, led by:

  • the United Kingdom (5,500)
  • China (5,100)
  • India (5,100)
  • the Philippines (2,000)
  • Germany (1,600)
  • Ireland (1,400). 

For more detailed data about permanent and long-term migration, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

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