Australians and Americans continued to visit New Zealand in growing numbers in the traditionally quiet month of July, more than offsetting the decline in Asian tourist numbers.
About 255,585 short-term visitors arrived in New Zealand in July, up 2 per cent from the same month a year earlier, Stats NZ said.
There were 123,874 Australian visitors in July, up 1.5 per cent from a year earlier, and US arrivals rose 6.2 per cent to 17,213. Visitors from the UK also rose 3.4 per cent to 8,586. That more than offset a 3.3 per cent decline in Chinese visitor numbers to 28,290 in what was meant to be the NZ-China Year of Tourism.
"Visitor arrivals from Asia have been falling for six months in a row when compared with the corresponding month last year," population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said.
Today's data show annual visitors rose 2.8 per cent to 3.89 million people in the 12 months ended July 31. There were 2.8 per cent, or 41,689 more Australian visitors, but 6.4 per cent, or 28,789, fewer Chinese visitors. Visitors from the United States were up 8.8 per cent, or 29,769.
The number of visitors who spent 15 days or more in New Zealand increased by 57,400, or 5.4 per cent, in the July 2019 year compared to July 2018. Visitors who spent 8-14 days in New Zealand increased by 48,600, or 4.5 per cent, over the same period. Visitors who spent 1-3 days in New Zealand fell by 21,300, or 3.2 per cent.
Stats NZ also released its provisional migration numbers for July, which estimate a net 6,100 people migrated to New Zealand that month, versus a net 4,870 a year earlier. That took the provisional annual net migration figure to 52,722 in July versus 48,709 a year earlier.
The provisional 12-month figure may be adjusted higher or lower by about 1,600, the agency said.
Stats NZ formally changed the way it measures migration in November last year when it stopped using arrival and departure cards travellers used to have to complete, which it said only captured intentions rather than what actually happened.
Migration estimates for the year ended March 2018 have now been finalised, with a net migration gain of 50,600 and the annual net migration inflow for the 12 months to February this year was revised down to 53,200 from the 61,600 Stats NZ published in April. It may still be adjusted higher or lower by 900, it said.
The net migration estimate for the month of June was revised to a net inflow 2,095 from 1,199.
Stats NZ said after reassessing with customers the options for publishing this release, it has decided to continue releasing international migration data each month in Infoshare.
"However, we will move from monthly to quarterly written commentaries. We believe that quarterly commentaries are sufficient to describe migration trends, which tend to change gradually," it said.