Visitors from China (left) Can xin (Annie) Huan (17) and
Zhou (Sandra) Huiling (19) board the Taieri Gorge Railway
in Dunedin yesterday, bound for Pukerangi. Photo by Linda
A surge in tourism is expected during the coming year.
Chinese visitors were up almost 50,000 for the year to August
and a further 50,000 from China are expected in the year ahead,
Westpac economist Nathan Penny says.
''The tourism sector has been in the doldrums for most of the
past 10 years,'' he said.
Tourism's share of gross domestic product (GDP), output and
employment had all fallen, while the global financial crisis
had taken its toll, but 2013 has begun ''buoyantly'' for the
sector and arrivals had ''turned a corner'', Mr Penny said.
While the rebuilding of Christchurch opens it up for more
business and earthquake fears subside, the strength of the
New Zealand dollar against its Australian counterpart could
weaken Australian visitor numbers.
Arrivals in 2013 had ''got off to a rollicking start''.
''March quarter arrivals picked up 4% and then jumped a
further 4.8% in the June quarter,'' Mr Penny said.
During August, there were 100,000 Australian visitors, 17,700
from China, 8800 from the US, 7400 from the UK and 7300 from
For the year to August, overall visitor numbers were up 0.9%,
or 22,491, at 2.65 million, Statistics New Zealand data
Mr Penny said arrivals from the main markets had increased,
or at least ''held their own'' during the first half of 2013,
compared with a year ago, which represented a ''major
turnaround'' for the UK, Germany and US markets.
Mr Penny singled out the Chinese market, saying there was a
powerful trend in increasing arrival numbers, which were up
by 27%, or by 49,000 visitors.
''Airline capacity and other factors permitting, we expect a
similar increase [from China] over the year ahead,'' Mr Penny
''The Chinese market is charging ahead.''
He noted the Chinese economy was in a cyclical slowdown. Its
GDP growth declined from 7.7% in 2012 to 7.4% this year and
was forecast to be 7.1% next year, but the long term
prospects ''should swamp any cyclical slowdown''.
''With the number of Chinese middle class expected to more
than double by 2020, growth in this market has a long way to
run,'' Mr Penny said.
While the US market is growing, up by 12,000 compared with
the same six-month period a year ago, the UK and German
markets had also ''turned a corner'', rising by 600 arrivals
compared with a year earlier.
He cautioned that the ''flip side'' to improvements in the
UK, US and German markets could see a weakening in the
Australian market, as its economic growth weakens in the face
of a mining downtown and the New Zealand dollar rising
against the Australian dollar.
''For most of the last 10 years, the the currency [NZD] has
traded above average against the currencies of both our major
trading partner [Australia] and our tourism markets,'' he
The earlier strength in the Australian economy had boosted
its dollar value against the New Zealand dollar, meaning the
kiwi had been less of a drag on the the tourism sector than
it had been for the wider exporting sector.
Mr Penny said Christchurch guest night numbers were improving
and, while down 27% on pre-earthquake levels, were growing at
25% a year, compared with 10% growth across the country.