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Tourism Recovery Insights data pack - 12 September

September 12, 2022

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The Tourism Recovery Insights data pack provides commentary on the latest real-time data on the border and visitors.

Data Purpose Source Updated Slide
Daily border crossings Based solely on border crossings into and out of New Zealand, these data do not incorporate arrival card information so no breakdown of traveller type StatsNZ 4 Sep 2022 1. Queenstown showing strong border arrivals in August, boosted by ski season
Weekly visitor arrivals Short-term overseas visitor data from arrival card information StatsNZ 21 Aug 2022 2. Australian visitor arrivals around 80% of the 2019 level in mid-August
3. Number of holiday visitor arrivals continue to exceed VFR arrivals
Operating airline capacity data Estimated operating airline capacity for the next six months, indicating the capacity airlines intend to make available. Sabre Market Intelligence Forecasts to Feb-2023 4. Operating airline capacity up to 73% of 2019's level by end of year
Consumer spend data Uses electronic card data as indicator of change in expenditure patterns in the economy MBIE 4 Sep 2022 5. International electronic card transaction (ECT) spend still down 19% despite high inflation
6. Spend in regions more reliant on international tourism is still below the national average
Working holiday scheme visa information Data on visa applications to Immigration NZ since the start of Reconnecting New Zealand on 14 March 2022. For tourism, we report on Working Holiday Scheme applications and arrivals to understand migrant labour available to the sector. Immigration NZ 6 Sep 2022 7. Working Holiday Scheme (WHS) visa arrivals total 6,700 since March
8. Monthly Working Holiday Scheme visa approvals are tracking close to 2019 levels


Queenstown showing strong border arrivals in August, boosted by ski season

Overall border arrivals to NZ totalled 73,400 in the week-ended 4 Sep, down 38% on the same week in 2019. Of these, 34,100 were non-NZers.

A strong ski season has lifted arrivals to Queenstown to around 90% of 2019 levels. This is higher than other NZ regions for the same period.

However, the majority of border arrivals in the latest week were to Auckland (71%).

Comparative figures are likely to be more volatile due to a lower baseline during this season.

Week-ended 4 Sep 2022 Border arrivals Change vs same week in 2019
Auckland 52,400 -40%
Christchurch 8,300 -42%
Queenstown 7,500 -9%
Wellington 5,100 -41%

Australian visitor arrivals around 80% of the 2019 level in mid-August

In the week-ended 21 August, there were 28,800 overseas visitor arrivals, 57% of 2019's level.

Australian visitor arrivals totalled 20,700 in the same week, 80% of 2019’s level.

Since the full border reopening on 1 August, arrival numbers outside NZ's main three markets (Australia, the US and the UK) have yet to ramp up.

Arrivals from China, Japan and Germany were down 93%, 75% and 68%, respectively.

Week-ended 21 Aug 2022 Visitor arrivals Change vs same week in 2019
Australia 20,700 -20%
USA 1,400 -52%
UK 900 -43%

Number of holiday visitor arrivals continue to exceed VFR arrivals

International visitor arrivals to NZ for a holiday reached 11,300 in the week-ended 21 August.

This figure continue to be greater than the 10,700 that arrived to visit friends and relatives.

The number of VFR visitor arrivals was down only 14% on 2019 levels.

Week-ended 21 Aug 2022 Visitor arrivals Change vs same week in 2019
Holiday/vacation 11,300 -49%
Visit friends/relatives 10,700 -14%
Business 3,800 -62%

Operating airline capacity to be back to 73% of 2019 levels by end of year

By the end of the year, total operating airline capacity is estimated to grow to 73% of 2019 levels.

Estimated operating airline capacity in September and October remains similar to August's levels.

North American airline capacity is forecasted to return closest to 2019 levels by November, boosted by increased frequency of flights, and the return of some flight paths.

Airline capacity Change vs same month in 2019
Australia North America Total
September 2022 -39% -41% -44%
October 2022 -38% -32% -42%
November 2022 -23% -8% -30%
December 2022 -21% -14% -27%
January 2023 -22% -13% -26%
February 2023 -20% -9% -25%

International electronic card transaction (ECT) spend still down 19% despite high inflation

International ECT spend spend in NZ in the week-ended 4 Sep was down 19% compared to the same week in 2019.

Spend in the industries 'food and liquor' (up 16% in the latest week) and 'fuel and automotive’ (up 5%) have been closest to 2019 levels over the past couple of months.

Spend figures have not been adjusted for inflation (the rate of increase in prices over a given period), so they are expected to be closer to 2019 levels than arrival figures.

Current spend figures are from the low season, and therefore comparative figures from 2019 are likely to be more volatile.

Spend in regions more reliant on international tourism is still below the national average

International ECT spend in regions more reliant on international tourism is still below the national average change on 2019’s level (down 19% in the latest week).

A strong ski season in Queenstown resulted in international spend hovering around the national average change on 2019’s level, down 13% in the latest week.

This trend was mainly driven by a larger proportion of arrivals visiting family and relatives (VFR) since the border reopened. VFR visitors are more likely to visit higher population areas (such as Auckland) and less likely to participate and spend in traditional tourism activities.

Working Holiday Scheme (WHS) visa arrivals up by 1,100 in latest fortnight

As at 6 Sep 2022, 6,700 people had arrived in New Zealand on a WHS visa since applications started again in mid-March.

Immigration NZ has approved 24,000 applications, with a further 18,050 automatically granted due to un-used and expired WHS visas from COVID-19.

The UK tops the number of offshore approvals, followed by France and Germany.

Recent Government announcements have boosted potential future WHS visa holder numbers in New Zealand, including doubling the 2022/23 cap and extending WHS visas expiring between 26 August 2022 and 31 May 2023 by 6 months.

Working Holiday Scheme (WHS) Offshore Onshore Total WHS - Special Direction Grand Total
Applications received 25,690 470 26,160
Applications approved 23,680 320 24,000 18,050 42,050
Arrivals 4,625 2,074 6,699

Working Holiday Scheme UK France Germany USA
Offshore applications approved 3,580 2,860 2,820 1,820

Monthly Working Holiday Scheme visa approvals are tracking close to 2019 levels

WHS visa approvals were very similar for June and July 2022 when compared with the same months in 2019.

WHS visa approvals tended to peak towards the end of each year pre-COVID-19.

The large figure for March 2022 was due to WHS Special Direction visas being granted automatically.