Last year finished with New Zealand visitor numbers cracking the 2.6 million mark for the first time.
That figure was helped by a record December, according to figures released today (Friday) by Tourism NZ.
Arrivals for December, at 364,165, were 5.4 per cent up on December 2010.
Significantly, arrivals from Australia – NZ’s largest visitor market – were up 6.7 per cent.
Double digit growth was again recorded in arrivals from Asia.
Malaysia was up 31.8 per cent on December 2010, China up 29.9 per cent – or 4200 extra arrivals – and Singapore was up 26.3 per cent.
Korea, which has been weak since the February Christchurch earthquake, also showed growth – total arrivals were up 2.7 per cent with holiday arrivals up 11.8 per cent.
Over the course of 2011, total stay days increased 2.2 per cent to 51.6 million, while holiday stay days were only down 0.9 per cent.
Tourism NZ chief executive Kevin Bowler says the figures prove the country held its own in a year of contrast.
“The highs were really high for some operators, with the Rugby World Cup providing a needed boost, but the lows mostly over the first half of the year were extremely low.
“These figures show just how resilient the sector is and to end the year in growth is an excellent outcome.
“As 2012 gets into full swing, we’re expecting to see continued strong performances from Australia and most parts of Asia,” Bowler says.
“The USA and Europe continue to be challenging markets for NZ, but they remain vitally important and high on our marketing priorities.”