New Zealand

New data highlights the economic importance of tourism to NZ

New Zealand's tourism boom surpasses expectations, generating $37.7 billion but what's driving this surge?

Amid the challenges of a post-COVID world, New Zealand’s tourism industry emerges as a beacon of resilience and economic prowess. Recent figures reveal a robust recovery, showcasing the sector’s significant contribution to the nation’s financial well-being.        

Statistics NZ’s annual Tourism Satellite Account shows that for the year to March 2023, tourism was generating $37.7 billion from visitor spending, even though this period was still in the early stages of COVID recovery. 

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“These figures are historic but what they show is that tourism operators did an amazing job to get up and running after our borders fully opened and as international visitors returned, they were contributing billions of dollars to our economy,” Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive Rebecca Ingram says

By March 2023,  tourism – directly and indirectly – was contributing 6.2 percent of New Zealand’s GDP. 

International visitors spent $10.8 billion, an increase of $8.8 billion from the previous year which was a strong result given the time frame and the significant rebuild underway by operators.  

“While this data gives us a read on last summer, anecdotal feedback from tourism operators this summer is very positive, tourism businesses are buoyant, and the signs are that we can look forward to contributing even more strongly to the country’s economic wellbeing when this data is published again.”

She also acknowledged the underpinning support of domestic tourism, which spent $26.9 billion in the year to March 2023 – above pre-COVID levels.

“This reinforces the importance of our New Zealand visitors, who continued to do something new after borders opened,” she said.

According to the Satellite Account, tourism is one of the country’s largest employers. Directly and indirectly, tourism supported 317,514 jobs in March 2023, “which means even at that time, tourism was supporting 11.3 percent of the country’s entire jobs market,” Ms Ingram said.

TIA Chief Executive, Rebecca Ingram

Ms Ingram noted that the Satellite Account was normally published in December and urged the government to prioritise this and other core tourism data.

“For tourism in New Zealand to develop sustainably, we need fundamental information about our performance, this ensures we can manage our industry well,’’ she said.

“The TSA’s data is vital for understanding tourism. It informs both the public and private sectors and underpins decision-making. The data available for tourism must be improved so we understand the current state of the industry much more deeply than we currently do.”

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