24 Nov 2009

Warning tough times still ahead for tourism industry

10:11 am on 24 November 2009

The tourism industry will continue to struggle next year despite an increase in visitor numbers to New Zealand, an economist believes.

Statistics New Zealand figures show short-term arrivals to New Zealand rose 8% for the year to October, with most coming from Australia and China.

There were 22% more visitors from Australia but fewer from the United Kingdom, South Korea and Japan.

Deutsche Bank chief economist Darren Gibbs says the strong Australian economy coupled with a weaker Kiwi dollar earlier this year has encouraged more Australians to holiday in New Zealand.

However, he says Australians are not as bigger spenders as their European and Japanese counterparts.

"Big spending visitors tend to be the Japanese and Continental Europe ... we are seeing increasing visitor numbers from Germany, but numbers from Japan for the last three months are down about twenty percent on this time last year, replaced by lesser spending Australians."

Meanwhile, the number of people migrating to New Zealand has hit a five-year high in October as fewer people left the country.

There was a net gain of more than 18,500 permanant and long-term migrants for the year to October, compared with just 4,300 a year earlier.