Fiji says 'bula' to Kiwi wave

The Boxing Day tsunami may have been the cause of a 103 per cent jump in the number of New Zealanders who went to Fiji this January.

Although it could not verify the disaster as the cause, Fiji Visitors Bureau said yesterday it may have contributed, as may New Zealand's wet start to summer.

Commenting on Statistics New Zealand figures that show 2800 New Zealanders went to Fiji in January this year, a 103 percent jump on the number who went in January last year, the bureau's New Zealand marketing officer Tracey Pettit said Fiji has had a "huge increase" in the number of New Zealand visitors.

The tsunami may have been one reason for the January rise, but as well there are now more frequent flights to Fiji from more New Zealand cities, she said.

"I'm not surprised by the figures, visitor arrivals in Fiji from New Zealand have increased hugely in terms of the number of Kiwis going there outside peak travel periods," Ms Pettit said.

Meanwhile, a drop in the number of Asians coming to New Zealand in January has been attributed to a change in the timing of the Chinese Lunar New Year.

Statistics said visitor arrivals in January were up two percent and it was countries such as Australia, Britain, Germany and Japan that boosted the figures.

There were fewer visitors from China, Hong Kong (down 61 percent) and Korea -- a fact Statistics puts down to the change in timing of the Lunar New Year celebration from January to February.

There were 249,900 short-term overseas visitor arrivals in New Zealand in January this year, an increase of 5600, or two percent, on January 2004.

In the year to January 2005 there were 2.353 million visitor arrivals, up 223,600 or 10 percent, on the January 2004 year.

Statistics said New Zealand residents made 97,800 short-term overseas trips this January, 17,400 more than in January 2004. Most went to Australia but the number going to Fiji jumped 103 percent.

In the year ending January 2005 short-term departures numbered 1.751 million, up 26 per cent on the 1.387 million in the year that ended in January 2004.

- NZPA

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