WELLINGTON — A surge in Chinese travelers helped push overseas visitor numbers in New Zealand to a record high last year, the government statistics agency said on Feb 1.
Visitor arrivals hit 444,900 in December, the highest-ever monthly figure, with the biggest increase from China, up 11,000, or 43 percent, from December 2014, according to Statistics New Zealand.
“The previous record of 402,500, set in December 2014, was easily surpassed this month,” population statistics manager Jo-Anne Skinner said in a statement.
“This was mainly driven by a 17-percent increase in arrivals of holidaymakers.”
Visitor arrivals reached a record 3.13 million for the entire year, up 10 percent from 2014.
Australia contributed 1.33 million visitors last year, China 355,900, and the United States 243,100.
Chief executive of the government’s Tourism New Zealand agency, Kevin Bowler, said December had topped off a significant year.
“The growth we are seeing now and predicting for the months ahead will provide significant benefit for many communities as tourism visitors and associated spend flows through local economies,” Bowler said in a statement.
Incredible growth of Chinese travelers is expected to continue, with total arrivals estimated to be up 34.4 percent and holiday arrival up 39.7 percent for the year.
“As we head toward the Chinese New Year period, a key travel period for Chinese travelers in late January and early February, we are expecting to see this growth continue,” said Bowler.