New Zealand tourism: Facts and figures

New Zealand has a rich history of promoting tourism and is the oldest national tourism organisation in the world.

Tourism New Zealand is the world’s oldest national tourism organisation, celebrating its centenary in 2001.

It was a wise investment the New Zealand Government made on February 1, 1901, when it launched the first government department devoted to tourism.

From a mere 5,000 international visitors, in 2014 Tourism New Zealand has welcomed a 4.9 per cent increase in international visitor arrivals for the year ending September 2014, pushing total annual arrivals to more than 2.8 million for the first time ever.International visitors contribute more than $9.6 billion to New Zealand’s economy every year.

Largest tourism market

Australia is New Zealand’s largest tourism market, contributing more than 1.18 million visitors each year.

The European market is also important to New Zealand, especially the United Kingdom which provides about 189,000 visitors annually and is New Zealand’s fourth largest market.

Visitor growth from western markets has remained strong for the year-ending September 2014 with holiday arrivals from the US (up 14.3 percent), Canada (up 2.1 per cent), Germany (up 20.4 per cent) and UK (up 1.8 per cent) and all in growth.

Year-on-year growth has been further bolstered by holiday arrivals out of the Asian markets with Singapore (up 17.4 per cent), Malaysia (up 15.0 per cent) and Thailand (24.8 per cent), all in growth.

Growth from China

China is New Zealand's second largest market, with more than 222,000 visitors annually with visitor arrivals are up 2.7 per cent for the year ending September 2014 while total stay days have increased by 31.0 per cent for the same period.

China’s interest in New Zealand has continued to grow with a 2012 visit from high-profile celebrity Yao Chen who was married in Queenstown, and the recent broadcast of Chinese reality show Dad, Where Are We Going?  

This show, featuring Chinese celebrities travelling around New Zealand, participating in tourism activities, was watched by more than 400 million viewers.

Middle-earth effect

The impact of Sir Peter Jackson’s The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies on tourism in New Zealand cannot be dismissed. 

The International Visitor Survey from 2004, completed following the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, found that six percent of visitors to New Zealand (around 120,000 - 150,000 people) cited The Lord of the Rings as being one of the main reasons for visiting New Zealand.

One per cent of visitors said that the Lord of the Rings was their main or only reason for visiting. This one per cent related to approximately NZ$32.8m in spend.

In 2004, 63,200 visitors participated in a Lord of the Rings activity while here and since 2004, an average 47,000 visitors each year have visited a film location.

In 2014 research completed by the New Zealand Institue of Economic Research found that the marketing of New Zealand as Middle-earth has had a significant and quantifiable impact on growth in visitor arrivals from Western markets. 

International Visitor Arrivals data for year ending August 2014 show holiday arrivals into New Zealand are up 7.2 per cent on last year.

Holiday arrivals from the United States, a key target market for the Middle-earth campaign, are up 14.2 per cent on the same period last year.

The International Visitor Survey shows that 13 per cent of all international visitors surveyed July 2013 - June 2014, say The Hobbit was a factor in stimulating their interest in New Zealand as a destination.

Source: Tourism New Zealand Corporate Website / Statistics New Zealand