Tourism is edging closer to dairy as New Zealand's top export earner with a 17 per cent boost to nearly $12 billion in the past year.
Statistics NZ figures show dairy exports in the year ended March were $14.1 billion while tourism receipts were more than $11.7 billion.
The figures don't cover the period of substantial dairy price falls in global auctions during winter.
Domestic tourism expenditure increased 6.3 per cent to $18.1 billion.
The Tourism Industry Association said the figures showed phenomenal growth. "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," association chief executive Chris Roberts said.
Tourism contributed 4.9 per cent ($10.6 billion) of gross domestic product, up from 4.6 per cent in 2014.
He said international visitor arrivals recently topped 3 million a year but more important was the double digit growth in spend by those visitors.
The strong growth is set to continue, with the 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."
Tourism Satellite Account figures showed that almost 300,000 or one in eight New Zealanders were directly or indirectly employed in tourism.
"Tourism supports jobs in every part of New Zealand, often in areas where few other opportunities exist," said Roberts.
Extra air capacity during summer will put pressure on infrastructure and although there had been some increase in the number of hotel beds there were shortages at the height of summer. Tourism operators also struggle to get enough staff in some areas.
The figures show most spending by international and domestic visitors was on retail at $5.4 billion followed by spending on air tickets ($4.1 billion) and "other passenger transport ($3.4 billion). Tourists spent $3.2 billion on food and beverage and $2.4 billion on accommodation.
Total GST paid on tourist products for 2015 was almost $2.5 billion.