Natural disasters drive down New Zealand visitor numbers, drive up emigration

15:14, July 21, 2011      

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New Zealand lost more people to emigration last month than for any June month in 30 years, with departures from earthquake-stricken Christchurch leading the way, the government statistics agency said Thursday.

The figures also showed the ash cloud from a Chilean volcano that grounded aircraft in New Zealand and Australia for much of last month resulted in a drop in visitor numbers, although a boom in arrivals from China buoyed numbers for the 12 months to June.

Permanent and long-term departures to Australia outnumbered arrivals by 3,100 in June, making it the highest net outflow for a June month since 1981, when the figure was 3,400, said a statement from Statistics New Zealand.

Net migration had been negative since March, when departures from Christchurch jumped following the earthquake that killed at least 181 people on Feb. 22, said the statement.

Departures from Christchurch numbered 600 in June, up from 500 in June 2010. From March to May, departures from New Zealand's second city were almost double those of the same months in 2010.

New Zealand had a net migration gain of 3,900 in the year to the end of June, down from 16,500 the previous year and well below the average annual net migration gain of 12,000 for the last 20 years.

The fall compared with last year was mainly due to an rise in the number of people leaving for Australia.

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