The number of tourists coming to New Zealand is forecast to grow 39 per cent to 4.9 million a year by 2023.

Spending is projected to rise by more than 50 per cent to $15.3 billion.

China is forecast to overtake Australia as New Zealand's most valuable visitor market by 2023.

While Australia will continue to be the source of most arrivals, Chinese tourists will spend more, according to forecasts released today by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

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The 410,000 Chinese visitors last year last year spent $1.65 billion and this is projected to grow to $4.34b by 2023.

Last year 1.4 million Australians visited New Zealand and that could increase to 1.75 million in the period. Spending could increase form $2.4b to just over $3b, according to New Zealand Tourism Forecasts 2017-2023.

Tourism Minister Paula Bennett said the figures confirmed that New Zealand's tourism sector is in good shape.
 
The Government was focused on helping the tourism sector attract visitors who brought ''value to our communities - those who spend more, stay longer and explore regions around New Zealand, as well as the main tourist spots".
 
The amount visitors spend per day is expected to grow by 9 per cent over the forecast period. For our second largest market, China, this figure is 17 per cent.
 
"The figures confirm the importance of China to our tourism industry; with China set to become our largest tourist market by spend,'' Bennett said.
 
She said with this strong growth, the country needed to ensure that regions had the infrastructure and ability to meet the pressures that tourism brings.
 
Yesterday she announced a $178m tourism package - including $41.5m of redeployed funding - that would help councils facing funding restraints to build the infrastructure and enable the development of tourist facilities on conservation land and the expansion of the Great Walks network.