Monday, May 27, 2024

Destinations making the biggest return with Kiwi tourists revealed by NZ Travel Stats

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Migration was not the biggest contributor to international departures but holidays. Photo / Rita Ox, Unsplash

Newly published travel figures by Stats NZ show a big shift in movements across the New Zealand border, with a record number of Kiwis heading overseas long term.

While the figures showed a net 1000 New Zealanders a day migrating abroad, there were also some trends in short-term leisure travel.

Migration was not the biggest contributor to international departures but holidays.

More than a million New Zealanders took an overseas holiday in the year to March 2024.

Vacation was the leading purpose for travel given by New Zealand residents, with 1,166,539 Kiwis returning from an overseas holiday. This is almost double the number from the year ending March 2023 – an increase of 84.2 per cent.

The biggest market for outbound Kiwis was, unsurprisingly, Australia. Transtasman holidays leapt by 97 per cent to 413,000 trips.

An influx of flights led the US to overtake the Cook Islands as New Zealand’s third most popular holiday destination. Photo / 123rf

The Cook Islands, though remaining the fourth most popular holiday spot and hosting almost 79,000 Kiwi tourists last year, dipped slightly. There were 3000 fewer tourist arrivals from NZ than the year prior, possibly as some Kiwis set their sights further afield.

Fiji and the US were the second and third most popular destinations, each gaining more than 30,000 annual arrivals.

The States overtook the Cooks largely due to increased airlinks and capacity from the US – the return of carriers such as American Airlines and Delta have only given lift to this demand.

On the subject of increased air capacity – the largest emerging markets for overseas travel were China and Japan.

With Japan’s slow post-pandemic reopening to tourists, at the end of 2022, Kiwi tourists jumped from 7000 to more than 40,000 tourists in just 12 months.

China meanwhile saw an almost 700 per cent increase, from 2220 arrivals to more than 17,000 off the back of increased air connections China Southern and other carriers flying routes to the PRC.

Western Europe also saw an uptick with France having a more than 250 per cent increase on the previous year.

Chinese tourists at Shamarra Alpacas at Akaroa, near Christchurch.  Photo / Estelle Sarney
Chinese tourists at Shamarra Alpacas at Akaroa, near Christchurch. Photo / Estelle Sarney

China jumps from 15th to 3rd largest tourist arrivals

While Kiwi tourists made the most of increased air connectivity, it was inbound tourists who made up the biggest contingent on returning aircraft.

Chinese tourists leapt from fewer than 8000 to almost 135,000 arrivals. They upended the table of international arrivals, starting near the bottom of the top 20 arrivals to finish the third-biggest market.

In second place, unsurprisingly, was tourist arrivals from the US off the abundance of aircraft flying from across the Pacific. The launch of ultra long-haul flights by Qantas and Air New Zealand to New York also saw a modest uptick of inbound travellers from the East Coast.

From Korea to Taiwan, Southeast Asia saw some of the largest increases in tourists visiting New Zealand.

With 1,473,757 arrivals listing “leisure” as the main purpose for visiting New Zealand, there was an uptick across the board for the top 20 markets.

This represented a noticeable 68.6 per cent increase on the year ending March 2023.

Australia remained in No. 1 position, with more than half a million Aussies arriving for a holiday. An increase of more than 100,000 trips.

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