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Statistics released today confirmed year-on-year growth in international visitor arrivals of 4.0 per cent, with 2.6 million arrivals to New Zealand for the year ending May 2012.
Maintaining year-on-year growth across the low season is a positive sign for the industry says Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler.
"We first saw this number of overseas visitors in December 2011, when arrivals topped 2.6 million for the first time. Seeing this maintained as we head into winter, with growth in our key markets of Australia, up 3.3 per cent for the year, and China up 32.3 per cent, is a good sign."
Statistics New Zealand's International Travel and Migration figures show overall arrivals for the month were 140,841, up 0.1 per cent on the same period last year. Holiday arrivals grew by 3.2 per cent and visiting family and relative arrivals up 6.7 per cent compared to the year-ending May 2011.
China continues to show strong growth with holiday arrivals up 61.1 per cent for the month. While South East Asia arrivals grew for the year, arrivals were down for the month reflecting the loss of Air Asia X.
"The decrease in arrivals from Singapore and Malaysia show the importance of successful air-connections to our offshore markets. We are working to offset this and have marketing activity underway with key airline partners in the region."
International visitor stay days also grew, up 0.5 per cent for the year generating 50.8 million stay days in New Zealand.
"Looking at stay days allows us to better understand the likely value of international arrivals. We can see that more work needs to be done to increase visitor stay days through attracting longer-staying, higher-value visitors to New Zealand.
"Germany is a good example. While we have seen German holiday arrivals decline recently, down 4.1 per cent year to date, when you look length of stay with arrival numbers over a longer period of time we can see that Germany has generated the third highest number of stay days in New Zealand since 2005.
"This places them ahead of the US and China and only just behind the UK.
"While China continues to deliver high number of arrivals, we need to increase the number of stay days to realise the full potential value of this market."