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"Staggering" surge in Chinese visitors helps set New Zealand travel record

03-05-2012 11:02 BJT

 

A record number of visitors from China in January helped push the monthly number of travelers crossing New Zealand borders over the 1-million mark for the first time, the government statistics agency announced Monday.

"There were 1.002 million international passengers in January 2012, the first time this number has exceeded 1 million in any month," Statistics New Zealand population indicators project manager Susan Hollows said in a statement.

In January, 266,800 overseas visitors arrived in New Zealand, up less than 1 percent from January 2011.

The increase was mainly due to 7,000 more arrivals to visit friends and relatives, while holiday-makers were down 4,200 and arrivals for conferences and conventions were down 800.

The number of visitors from the Chinese mainland at 23,300 was up by 8,800 from January last year and the highest recorded for any month.

New Zealand also saw more visitors from Australia (up 1,500), Malaysia (up 1,000) and Hong Kong (up 1,000), but fewer from South Korea (down 1,100), Japan (down 3,000), and the United Kingdom ( down 4,400).

"Travel from China's Mainland and Hong Kong in January was boosted by the earlier timing of Chinese New Year (23 January)," said a commentary from Statistics New Zealand.

"In 2010 and 2011, Chinese New Year was in February. Visitor arrivals from China's Mainland numbered 23,300 in January 2012, surpassing the previous monthly high of 18,600 in November 2011."

The median stay of Chinese visitors was six days, up from the four days recorded in January 2011.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler described the 60.4 percent rise in the number of visitors from China as " staggering".

"The significant growth seen in China can be attributed to the earlier celebration of the Chinese New Year in January this year, which fell in February in 2011," said Bowler in a statement.

The rise in the number of Chinese visitors in January exceeded the forecast of Tourism New Zealand.

In January, Tourism New Zealand general manager Asia markets Mark Frood told Xinhua the government tourism agency was expecting a 25-percent rise over the 14,550 Chinese who travelled to New Zealand in January 2011.

China Southern Airlines began direct flights between Auckland and Guangzhou in April last year, increasing to daily services in November, while Air New Zealand expanded its direct services to Shanghai and Beijing over the southern summer months.

In the year to the end of November 2011, the number of Chinese travelers to New Zealand was up 17.5 percent to 141,289, of whom 94,917 went on holiday, according to official New Zealand statistics.

About 75 percent of the holiday-makers came on organized tours and the rest as independent travelers, but the numbers were shifting more to independent travel, Frood told Xinhua.

Editor:Sun Luying |Source: Xinhua

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