It has been a long damp winter but that has not dented our tourism numbers with visitors flocking to (almost) 100% pure New Zealand. With the August visitor numbers released, rounding out the winter months, we can finally see if the rain, wind and countless landslips have made foreign travellers reconsider their plans.
NIWA ranked the winter of 2016 as the eighth warmest winter on record, and with the nice weather, growth in visitor numbers from the 2015 winter was very strong. In 2017, the coldest and wettest winter in recent memory, growth in visitor numbers continued for the seventh year in a row with an 8.4 percent increase in visitors from 2016.
It must be noted that June 2017 was given a huge boost from the British and Irish Lions tour. Visitor numbers from June showed 21 thousand visitors from the United Kingdom turned up for the tour, 250 percent more than visited in June 2016. After the departure of the multitudinous Lions fans, visitor numbers remained strong, July and August visitors were up four and six percent from their respective months in 2016.
The big driver for visitor growth this year was visitors from China on business trips, up 21 percent on the 2016 winter reflecting continued growth in trade with our second largest trading partner. Holiday visitors, typically the bigger spending visitors, were only up by modest amounts from 2016, at 1 percent and 6 percent for July and August respectively. While this growth is small, it still contributed to the overall hike of 8.4 percent for the same time in 2016.