Analysis of overseas tourists' Visa card data shows the Rugby World Cup helped a 1.5 per cent boost in spending on the plastic last year but visitors appear to have been put off paying for pricey accommodation.

Spending from two big traditional markets dropped while the biggest percentage rise in spending came from China.

International Visa card holders spent just over $2 billion in New Zealand last year - $30 million more than they did in 2010.

Chinese spent $53.6 million, nearly 57 per cent more here during 2011 compared with a year earlier.


Of the $2 billion spent in New Zealand on Visa cards Australia topped the list at $625 million, up 5.6 per cent from 2010.

However spending out of Britain dropped 8.4 per cent to $356.8 million and United States spending dropped 5 per cent to to $219 million which was in line with figures that show a cooling in tourism from these traditional markets.

The total number of transactions on the cards increased by 3 per cent to 13.7 million.

Visa country manager for New Zealand Sean Preston said it appeared the Cup provided a boost in spending from markets such as France and South Africa which were up 20.3 per cent and 12.1 per cent respectively.

But high asking prices and the decision of potential travellers to delay journeys here had affected spending on accommodation. That dropped 1.6 per cent to $222 million.

"During the Rugby World Cup a lot of hotels ramped up their prices so a lot of businesses cut back their travel for reasons of cost," he said.

"A lot of the Australians rather than coming over and staying for a few days were flying in and flying out and I think that had an impact on accommodation."

While spending from Chinese visitors was up, other key North Asian markets fell, with spend by tourists from Japan and South Korea dropping by 7.9 per cent and 25.8 per cent respectively.

Soft tourism and spending growth has previously been attributed to earthquakes in Christchurch and Japan and weak European and United States economies.

Seasonal figures showed winter was experiencing growth and the average value of transactions was higher then than at other times of the year.

New Zealanders travelling overseas spent $108 million more on their Visa cards last year than in 2010, a 5.9 per cent increase totalling $1.94 billion. In Australia, New Zealanders spent $765 million, up 3.1 per cent on the previous year.