Natural disasters drive down New Zealand visitor numbers, drive up emigration (3)

15:14, July 21, 2011      

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Despite the flight disruptions, the number of visitors from China was up 23 percent to 6,700, a record for a June month.

Year on year, visitor arrivals from China had increased every month since May 2010.

The increase from Malaysia was influenced by the launch of flights between Kuala Lumpur and Christchurch in April, and additional Singapore-Auckland flights that started in March.

However, Tourism New Zealand, the government tourism authority, said 2,501,303 international visitors arrived in New Zealand in the year to the end of June, which was comparable to the year to June 2010 (2,501,264).

"The increased number of visitors from China, Malaysia and Singapore continue to partially offset the declines from UK and the U.S. which again reflects the increasing importance of the Asian region," said Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler.

The decline in arrivals from the country's top three visitor markets was disappointing, but not unexpected given the trans- Tasman flight disruption caused by the Chilean ash cloud from June 12 and the late start to the snow season.

"This year New Zealand's had more than its fair share of natural events impacting visitor arrivals," said Bowler.

"Maintaining annual growth from China, Malaysia and Singapore is fundamental to ensuring a positive summer period for our industry, particularly in light of the continued challenging U.S. and UK environments."

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