The critical importance of the tourism industry to New Zealand's economic recovery from COVID-19 has been reinforced by the latest statistics.
Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) figures that were released by Stats NZ show that the total annual tourism spend has reached a record $41.9 billion in the year ended 31 March 2020 (an increase of 2.4 percent or $1 billion on a year earlier).
International visitors’ spend was up by 2.2 percent or $371 million to $17.5 billion, even though international arrivals fell 5.6 percent compared with the previous year.
Domestic travellers’ spend was up by 2.7 percent or $629 million to $24.4 billion.
The TSA is the official annual measurement of the New Zealand tourism industry. It includes measures of tourism spend by international and domestic visitors, the number of people employed through tourism, tourism’s share of export earnings and its contribution to New Zealand’s GDP.
"This official measurement of the value of the visitor economy reinforces its importance to New Zealand," said Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive, Chris Roberts.
While this period covered the initial stages of the pandemic, including the border closures in mid-March, we still saw total annual tourism expenditure grow to $41.9 billion - an average spend of $115 million per day.
"The increase in expenditure was achieved despite the fall in international arrivals. This is pleasing as it showed value growing faster than volume, one of the industry’s key long term goals."
225,384 people were directly employed in tourism – 8 percent of the total workforce and an increase of 2.5 percent from the previous year. A further 158,802 were indirectly employed in tourism (5.6 % of total employment), providing products and services consumed by visitors.
Tourism was New Zealand’s largest export earner, providing 20.1 percent of New Zealand’s total export receipts. Visitors provided the government with $3.9b in GST revenue, with $1.8b of that coming from international visitors.
Since March, the tourism picture has changed dramatically. However, this official record of the contribution of tourism to Aotearoa demonstrates the critical role the revitalisation of tourism will have in the wider economic recovery.