It hasn’t had the media coverage it deserves, but New Zealand is going through a tourism boom. The Tourism Satellite Account, the comprehensive record of tourist spending, found that international tourists spent 17% more in the year to March 2015 than they had the year before that, for a total of $11.8 billion. That’s an absolutely massive rise, the biggest in more than a decade. There was some similar growth back around 2000-2002, but since then double-digit growth has just been a happy memory.
Essentially, the tourism sector has gone from barely keeping pace with inflation in the post-GFC period, to now be growing massively. Tourism has kept growing in the last six months as well, so we’re in for another big rise for the year to March 2016 (I’m guessing it will be 10-12%).
Visitor arrivals are way up, but given that tourists take shorter trips than they used to, my favourite stat is the average number of visitors in NZ on a given day – that’s a better indicator of how much they’re contributing to the economy, and the ‘buzz’ they add to tourist hotspots.
This graph shows strong growth over 2000-2002, much slower growth in the years that followed, and faster growth from 2013 until the present.
Auckland will certainly have been getting its share of the tourism pie. Most international visitors fly in and out via Auckland Airport, and the city is also a tourism destination in its own right. We usually get about 37% of the nationwide expenditure by international tourists (excluding airfares, and the percentage would be even higher for those).
So, conservatively, international tourists probably spent at least $4.3 billion in Auckland in the year to March 2015, and the amount for next year looks even bigger. That’s a big injection into the Auckland economy, and of course the wider New Zealand economy too.
Now let’s all celebrate, while listening to the fresh sounds of Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff.