Destination Queenstown is joining its Christchurch counterpart in criticising key tourism statistics.
DQ’s marketing manager Graham Budd and Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism boss Tim Hunter complain official weekly visitor figures have a blind spot – Malaysia.
For the June quarter, Malaysian arrivals were 9980, outnumbering both Japan and Singapore – yet Malaysia doesn’t feature in the weekly top 10 list by country. Not measuring Malaysians is “misleading”, Budd says, “given the rapid rise of visitors from there”.
Since Air Asia X launched its Kuala Lumpur-Christchurch service in April, “Malaysia has consistently been the second largest provider of inbound arrivals from the Asian region behind China”, Hunter says.
Leaving Malaysia off the weekly list means tourism operators don’t realise “this market is now a major player”, he believes.
Budd adds Malaysians are high-value visitors, “given their independent travel and relative sophistication”.
Hunter’s raised the missing Malaysian equation with the Ministry of Economic Development, which disseminates the weekly figures to the tourism industry.
Statistics New Zealand is to blame, he’s been told, because of its policy that “a country must perform in the top 10 arrivals list for at least 12 months before it can be recorded in the weekly stats report”.
Twelve months is a guideline, Statistics NZ analyst Nick Thomson admits.
Weekly figures are provisional, with a monthly report listing all countries being “the main tourism statistics”.
“If we put one country in [the weekly top 10], we take another country out,” Thomson says.
He expects Malaysia to feature weekly in about two months.
“I think the one we’ll drop out will be India and there are some people who want India in there,” Thomson adds.
The weekly figures aren’t actually the top 10 countries of each week, he admits: “It takes a lot of work for us to change our programmes and systems, to change which countries are in there”.