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International Travel and Migration: July 2016
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  19 August 2016
Commentary

More holidaymakers drive visitor arrivals in July

Visitor arrivals numbered 237,900 in July 2016 – a new July record. This was driven by a 21 percent increase (up 20,600) in holidaymakers from July 2015.

Visitor arrivals were up 29,900 (14 percent) in July 2016 from July 2015.

 Graph, Monthly visitor arrivals, July 2006 to 2016.  

Visitor arrivals by country of residence

The biggest changes in visitors by country of residence between July 2015 and 2016 were in arrivals from:

  • Australia (up 6,700 to 112,400)
  • China (up 6,200 to 26,200)
  • the United States (up 4,500 to 17,200).

In July 2016, the increase in visitors arriving from Australia was dominated by those coming from New South Wales (up 5,900). This coincided with the New South Wales winter school holidays, which started in July in 2016, compared with June in 2015.

The increase in visitors arriving from China between July 2016 and July 2015 was led by visitors from Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong.

Visitor arrivals by travel purpose

The biggest changes in visitors by travel purpose between July 2015 and 2016 were for:

  • holidays (up 20,600 to 117,500)
  • visiting friends/relatives (up 4,600 to 65,300)
  • education (up 2,200 to 11,700).

Visitors from Australia, China, and the United States boosted holiday arrivals. This is the first time that holiday visitor arrivals from Australia have exceeded 50,000 in a July month. Arrivals from China and the United States dominated the increase in visits to friends and family.

Annual visitor arrivals a record 3.34 million in July 2016 year

Visitor arrivals to New Zealand were a record 3.34 million in the July 2016 year. This was up 337,300 from the July 2015 year, an 11 percent increase. A 17 percent increase in holiday arrivals (up 250,000 to 1.72 million) was largely responsible.

The biggest changes in visitor arrivals by country of residence between the July years were from:

  • China (up 87,900 to 403,200)
  • Australia (up 81,900 to 1.37 million)
  • the United States (up 26,800 to 262,000).

Holidaymakers and visits to friends and relatives accounted for 81 percent (2.71 million) of the visitor arrivals in the July 2016 year.

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

Highest-ever resident departures in July

New Zealand-resident travellers departed on a record 278,200 overseas trips in July 2016, up 11 percent from July 2015. This new record surpassed the previous record of 251,200 in July 2015 by 27,000 trips.

Graph, Monthly overseas trips by New Zealand residents, July 2006 to 2016.   

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) between July 2015 and 2016 were to:

  • Australia (up 5,500 to 113,500)
  • the United States (up 4,300 to 24,900). 

Holidays accounted for 43 percent of New Zealand-resident departures to Australia in July 2016, and for 62 percent of departures to the United States.

Annual trips by New Zealand residents reach record 2.49 million 

New Zealand residents departed on a record 2.49 million overseas trips in the July 2016 year. This was up 137,700 (6 percent) from the July 2015 year.

The biggest changes in New Zealand-resident departures by country of main destination between the July years were in departures for:

  • Australia (up 28,100 to 1.15 million)
  • Fiji (up 15,700 to 155,500)
  • the United Kingdom (up 14,100 to 114,900).

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

Declining trend in monthly net gain of migrants

Seasonally adjusted permanent and long-term (PLT) migration figures showed a net gain (more arrivals than departures) of 5,600 migrants in July 2016. Since reaching a peak of 6,200 in November 2015, the seasonally adjusted net gain in migrants has averaged 5,700 a month.

While the monthly net gain of migrants is still positive and remains high relative to historic levels, recent net gains show a declining trend. This relates to the declining trend in migrant arrivals and an increasing trend in migrant departures.

Graph, Monthly net permanent and long-term migration, July 2006 to 2016.

There was a small seasonally adjusted net loss of 20 migrants to Australia in July 2016. This relates to the declining trend in migrant arrivals from Australia and an increasing trend in migrant departures to Australia.

Annual net gain of 69,000 migrants

Unadjusted figures showed a net gain of 69,000 migrants in the July 2016 year. This stopped the 23-month-long run of record-breaking annual net gains in migrants, which hit 69,100 in the June 2016 year. While the July 2016 year was not a new annual record, it did break the previous July-year record, which was a net gain of 59,600 migrants in the July 2015 year.

Net migration is calculated from PLT arrivals less PLT departures. The larger gain in migrants in the July 2016 year compared with the July 2015 year was driven primarily by more arrivals. Migrant arrivals were 125,000 in the July 2016 year, up 7,900 (7 percent) from the July 2015 year, creating a new July-year record. New Zealand citizens returning to live in New Zealand accounted for one-quarter (30,700) of all migrant arrivals. 

The increase in migrant arrivals between the June 2015 and June 2016 years was led by increases from China, South Africa, and Australia. There was a small decrease in migrant arrivals from India.

Migrant departures were 56,000 in the July 2016 year, down 1,500 (3 percent) from the July 2015 year. The decrease was driven by a fall in departures to Australia (down 1,300) between the two July years, as fewer New Zealand citizens migrated there.

In the July 2016 year, there was a net gain of 1,800 migrants from Australia. It was the 10th consecutive month to show an annual net gain.

The pattern of trans-Tasman migration has been volatile, driven chiefly by New Zealand citizens.

See Kiwi exodus to Australia bungees back for a historical perspective on trans-Tasman migration flows and recent net gains from Australia. (Note: the article uses data to June 2016 and does not include data from this release.)

PLT migrant arrivals by visa type

The biggest changes in migrant arrivals by visa type between the July years were:

  • work visas (up 3,800 to 39,400)
  • residence visas (up 1,700 to 15,500)
  • New Zealand and Australian citizens (up 1,500 to 36,500).

People arriving on work visas mostly came from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Australia. People arriving on work visas include working holidaymakers.

People arriving on residence visas mostly came from China, the United Kingdom, and Samoa.

The number of arrivals on student visas was relatively flat in the July 2016 year (26,800). People arriving on student visas mostly came from India, China, and the Philippines. Although India was the largest source of people arriving on student visas (8,800), the number fell 17 percent compared with the July 2015 year.

For more detailed data about PLT migration, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

Upcoming system change

International travel and migration data will soon be processed using a new, upgraded processing system, starting with August 2016 data (released on 21 September 2016). This new system uses improved methodology, which takes greater account of travellers' history in addition to intentions stated on the arrival and departure cards. It also makes greater use of automation in the processing and classification of passenger types. 

For more information, see International Travel and Migration processing system changes in August 2016 in DataInfo+.

Find data tables and information about this release

For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

See DataInfo+ for more information on definitions and data quality.

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