NZ migration, tourism boom year continues

New Zealand's migration and tourism set records in November. Photo: ODT files
New Zealand's migration and tourism set records in November. Photo: ODT files

New Zealand's booming migration and tourism set records in November, with arrivals continuing to increase and departures steadily lower.

Annual net migration reached 70,400 in November, setting a record, driven by more migrants from the US, Australia and Malaysia. Migrant arrivals rose 4.8%  to 126,7000 in the year, also a new record, while migrant departures dipped 1.6% to 56,300.

Short-term visitor arrivals, which includes tourists, people visiting family and friends and people travelling for work, reached 3.45 million in the year ended November 30, up 12% from the year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said.

A swelling population stoking more activity and record inflows of tourists helped offset the impact of weak dairy prices earlier in the year, underpinning an economy growing at a rapid pace. At the same time, a rising population has posed problems for policymakers by fuelling demand for an already-stretched housing market in Auckland, while restraining wage growth. The nation's per-capita growth has been anaemic.

"Net migration is continuing to run at record annual highs as arrivals continue to tick higher, while departures remain low and steady. Meanwhile, tourism continues to perform strongly," ASB Bank economist Daniel Snowden said in a note.

"Once again, Stats NZ has had issues with a full data release, with much of the detail unavailable. However, it looks as if once again new arrivals are the main driver, although there was another small dip in departures. Both are a continuation of recent trends. As usual, around a third of arrivals were Australians or returning NZ citizens."

Today's data show a 17% uplift in the number of visitors holidaying in New Zealand in the year, with most holidaymakers from Australia, China or the US. On an annual basis, Australians made up 554,784 of the 1.8 million holidaymakers, while China was the second-biggest pool at 312,480.

Net permanent and long-term migration was dominated by arrivals from Asia, who made up about half of the 70,400 arrivals. Some 10,280 migrants came from China, up 17% from a year earlier, while 9100 came from India, down 31%.

Of those new migrants who arrived in the year, a net 33,536, or 48%, settled in Auckland, followed by a net 9.5% moving to Canterbury, net 5.1% going to Wellington and net 3.9% settling in Waikato.

Most holidaymakers came from Australia, with 42,176 Australians travelling to New Zealand in the month. Business visitors rose 3.6 percent in November from a year earlier to 31,216, and increased 5.2% on an annual basis to 289,152, two-thirds of whom came from across the Tasman.

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