Tourism is contributing more than ever to New Zealand's economic wellbeing, with the industry outstripping its own performance targets, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) says.
The Tourism Satellite Account released today by Statistics New Zealand shows phenomenal growth in tourism, TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says.
Total tourism expenditure in the year to March 2015 was $29.8 billion, an increase of 10.3 percent on the previous year. International tourism expenditure increased 17.4 percent to $11.8 billion, while domestic tourism expenditure increased 6.3 percent to $18.1 billion.
"New Zealand tourism is enjoying a boom. We are ahead of target to achieve the Tourism 2025 aspirational goal of growing total annual tourism revenue to $41 billion over the next decade," Chris Roberts says.
"Tourism accounts for 17.4 percent or $11.8 billion of New Zealand's total exports (up from 15% or $10 billion in 2014) and we directly contribute 4.9% ($10.6 billion) of gross domestic product (up from 4.6% in 2014). International visitor arrivals recently surpassed 3 million a year but more importantly, there's been strong double digit growth in spend by those visitors."
The strong growth is set to continue, with industry expecting a record-breaking summer.
"On the domestic travel front, new information, including credit card data, has resulted in a better understanding of the size of this market. It's now estimated to be worth $18.1 billion to our economy. This reinforces the value of the work TIA is leading to boost the value of domestic tourism."
The new figures show that one in eight New Zealanders are directly or indirectly employed in tourism, reinforcing the industry's value to communities around the country. Tourism supports jobs in every part of New Zealand, often in areas where few other opportunities exist, Mr Roberts says.
TIA congratulates Statistics New Zealand on the changes it has made to improve the quality of the data in the TSA. TIA has put considerable effort into working more closely with the public sector to explore new and improved methods of data collection that in turn provides better insight to the tourism industry and its stakeholders, Mr Roberts says.
"The challenge for the industry now is to manage the pressures created by the rapid growth in tourism. The TIA National Tourism Summit in Wellington on Thursday 19 November will explore these issues."