NZ visitor numbers take a dive


The number of tourists travelling to New Zealand took a fall in March. 

Almost 28,000 less visitors – about 11 per cent – travelled to NZ shores compared to the same time last year, according to figures from Statistic NZ. 

Numbers from South Korea took the biggest slide – 38 per cent – while Japanese visitors were down by 35 per cent. 

But it’s not all bad news. Tourists from key markets of China, the United States and Singapore all increased slightly. 

And in the 12 months from March 2010-11, about 2.5 million international visitors jetted into the country. That’s an increase of 0.3 per cent on the previous year. 

Tourism NZ chief executive Kevin Bowler says the decline in March arrivals had been anticipated following the earthquake in Christchurch in February earthquake and Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in March. 

After February, TNZ increased marketing in key markets and changed some of its messages so numbers bounced back as quickly as possible, Bowler says. 

“Tourism New Zealand’s focus over the past two months has been on doing whatever we can to remind international visitors and trade that NZ’s appeal as a travel destination had not changed. 

“While we can expect overall arrival figures in April to also be challenging, I am confident that with the New Zealand ski season ahead, a host of new air routes linking China and South East Asia to NZ, and Rugby World Cup 2011 around the corner, arrivals will return to more normal levels later in the year,” Bowler says.