Larger tourism businesses are struggling far more than their smaller competitors to ride out the economic downturn.
Ministry of Tourism research shows a 6.1% fall in visitor numbers in the three months to March.
Larger businesses suffering a more severe drop in numbers, of 7.5%, blamed in part on their reliance on visitors from Asian countries, who have been among the first to stop travelling to New Zealand.
Access to credit was also reported to be having a negative effect on one-fifth of small and medium size operators.
Operators expect demand to fall further in the period to May.