Overseas tourists prefer north to south

Auckland Airport's international passenger volumes are up 5 per cent on last year. Photo / NZPA
Auckland Airport's international passenger volumes are up 5 per cent on last year. Photo / NZPA

More overseas visitors are flooding through the gateways at Auckland International Airport but fewer of them appear to have Christchurch on their local itinerary, new data and surveys show.

Auckland Airport's international passenger volumes rose by 5 per cent to 582,148 in November from the same month last year.

Domestic passenger volumes climbed 2.3 per cent to 518,115, having fallen away during the Rugby World Cup.

The airport has seen 25 per cent more Chinese visitors this month compared with the previous year, following the introduction of daily flights from southern China from November 1, the company says.

Domestic passenger numbers increased by 2.3 per cent over the same period.

But although the influx may bode well for the north of the country, tourism operators expect to see little trickle-down effect into Canterbury, where earthquake damage has spoiled the appeal of the once-scenic city of Christchurch, formerly a favourite backdrop for Japanese wedding photographs.

Tourism operators are expecting demand to drop between 14 and 24 per cent in the Canterbury region over the next few months, according to a survey by the Ministry of Economic Development's tourism industry monitor.

It also predicts a 7 per cent decline in Otago.

By contrast, tourism growth in the top of the South Island is forecast at between zero and 5 per cent, the same as the lower North Island.

The central North Island's growth is forecast at between zero and 4 per cent, with Auckland and Northland in a range between a decline of 3 per cent and an increase of 2 per cent.

The ministry's report cites global economic conditions, a weak international visitor market, and the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes as the main negative influences on tourism.

Auckland Airport also owns 75 per cent of Queenstown Airport, which recorded a 62 per cent jump in international passengers to 10,376 in November from a year earlier, reflecting more transtasman flights to Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

In each month in the past year there have been higher passenger numbers compared with the year before, with an average 61.4 per cent increase.

Air New Zealand's passenger numbers for domestic flights fell by about 5000 to 704,000 in the 12 months ended November 30, and international traveller numbers dropped 7000 to 340,000.

The company has planned to review its long-haul programme and will be releasing results of the review throughout next year.

Yesterday it announced new services from Brisbane and Sydney to Norfolk five days a week, to complement its Auckland-Norfolk flights.

- BusinessDesk

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