New rules in China could cut the number of tourists coming to New Zealand but those who do come should spend more.

Figures released yesterday showed holiday arrivals from China surged 78.4 per cent last month to 16,600 ahead of a law change that requires travel sellers in China to offer better quality, and more expensive, group tour packages both domestically and internationally.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said for the first two weeks of October, unofficial figures indicated a dramatic change in the Chinese visitor mix, with a fall in short-stay group visits and an increase in the number of Chinese visitors travelling independently here.

"We expect total visitor numbers from China to be softer in October, but that this decline will be temporary as the market mix shifts to better quality experiences for visitors. Overall it is a positive development for New Zealand tourism, and fits with our strategy to increase the value of the Chinese market to New Zealand," said Bowler.


In September, strong growth in holiday arrivals was also seen across Asian markets with Singapore up 55.2 per cent to 1440, Japan up 28.9 per cent to 2900 and Korea up 27 per cent to 2340.

Bowler said the growth showed the important role of marketing and aviation competition in driving capacity and, in turn, arrivals. "These markets have all seen increased promotion of New Zealand, with sharper airfares offered from competing airlines."

Holidaymakers continue to drive the growth in overall numbers, with September holiday arrivals up 16.4 per cent on the same month a year ago, bringing an additional 12,944 visitors for the month.