Auckland airport predicts up to 5.5% international visitor growth

Auckland International Airport yesterday released its new international visitor ambitions which, if met, could have a significant impact on the national economy.

The airport company predicted annual international visitor arrivals growth could be between 3.6% and 5.5%.

Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood said the tourism industry's goal of 6% year-on-year growth in value to 2025 was ''very much achievable''.

That meant New Zealand's international visitor arrivals could grow to between 4.2 million and 5.2 million by 2025.

''The tourism industry is also targeting to increase the average spend of international visitors. Depending on how well we can meet demand and cater for market change, the potential spend of those visitors could be worth $19.1 billion to our tourism industry and much more for our wider economy,'' he said.

Craigs Investment Partners broker Chris Timms said the ability of Auckland Airport to create opportunities for airlines to fly into New Zealand was an advantage for both the national and regional economies.

''Their position allows them to guide people wanting to fly into New Zealand.

''You tend to think of Auckland Airport as passive but actually, they are very active in promoting increased plane numbers flying into New Zealand.''

The more opportunities the airport created, the more money would be spent in places like Queenstown and Central Otago through Auckland Airport's ability to encourage people to fly south, he said.

Auckland Airport owns 19% of Queenstown Airport.

Mr Littlewood said Australia would always be a key market to New Zealand because of its proximity. Within Asia, China remained the standout prospect for growing tourism.

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