China Edges Closer to U.K. as New Zealand’s No. 2 Tourist Market

Chinese visitors may soon become New Zealand’s second-biggest spenders from abroad, overtaking tourists from the U.K., a government report showed.

Chinese visitor spending rose 27 percent to NZ$522 million ($429 million) in the 12 months through June 30 from a year earlier, according to government figures published today. Spending by U.K. visitors fell 1.4 percent to NZ$568 million and purchases by Australians were little changed at NZ$1.64 billion.

“China was the standout performer,” Peter Ellis, manager of tourism research and evaluation, said in an e-mailed statement. “It is now just a matter of time before China becomes our second-largest visitor market.”

China in December overtook the U.S. as the third-biggest market by value for New Zealand’s tourism industry, which makes up about 9 percent of the economy. The number of arrivals from China rose by a third to 175,000.

Total tourist spending was little changed at NZ$5.64 billion even as the number of visitors rose 5 percent, today’s report showed. Hosting the Rugby World Cup in September and October cushioned the industry from declines in traditional markets and without it spending may have dropped more than NZ$200 million, Ellis said.

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