Lonely Planet Writer

Surge in tourism boosts New Zealand economy with visitors spending $13bn last year

Tourists to New Zealand were attracted in record numbers with spending by visitors also hitting new heights last year.

Tourists numbers to New Zealand hit a record high in the last year
Tourists numbers to New Zealand hit a record high in the last year Image by Tom Hall / CC BY 2.0

The surge in tourist spending, aided by a weakening local currency, helped to narrow the country’s current account deficit, according to latest figures from Statistics New Zealand.

New Zealand's many attractions to visitors was also helped by the fact that the Kiwi currency was weak, given tourists extra bang for their buck
New Zealand’s many attractions to visitors was also helped by the fact that the Kiwi currency was weak, given tourists extra bang for their buck Image by Edward Hyde / CC BY-SA 2.0

The New Zealand Herald reported that the spending by overseas visitors amounted to close on $13 billion in 2015. That return was NZ$2.6 billion ahead of returns for the previous year.

And the attraction of choosing the country as a destination has continued into 2016 with January figures seeing guest nights rising to 4.8 million for the month.

These figures are the best in over two decades while annual tourist numbers is up 11% to well over three million.

Inbound tourism has come at a great time for the national economy as it helped turn the balance on services into a surplus.

Tourists spent more on their credit cards in New Zealand, with Australians leading the way followed by visitors from Britain.

These figures emerged based on transactions through the Paymark network.

Total spending on overseas-issued credit cards rose to NZ$278.8 million which is a 14.6% rise from the same month last year, according to the company’s transactions.

People buying goods on cards rose in Otago by 27% and was close to 30% in Southland. This reflected the increased sales activity in Queensland and Milford Sound, according to Paymark.

Not surprisingly, the Aussies were tops as spenders on NZ$64.8 million. This was almost a 20% rise over February of 2015.

UK-issued credit cards showed an increase in transactions of 7.5% to $41.6 million.

American use of cards while in New Zealand rose 10% to close to $40 million.

However the largest gain was on South Korean cards. These , climbed by 31% to $5.39 million. Japanese spending on cards rose by a quarter to $4.3 million while the spend on Chinese cards rose 24% to NZ$36.8 million.