23 Jun 2014

Tourist numbers reach record high

1:21 pm on 23 June 2014

The number of tourists visiting New Zealand has reached a record high.

Official figures show 161,400 tourists arrived in May.

That helped to boost the annual figure for visitor arrivals to 2.78 million people in the year to May 2014, up six percent on the year before.

Most visitors come from Australia, China, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Statistics New Zealand said the number of New Zealanders travelling overseas also increased, with 198,200 residents travelling overseas in May - up nine percent from May 2013.

Tourists enjoying helicopter tour, Aoraki / Mt Cook.

Tourists enjoying helicopter tour, Aoraki / Mt Cook. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Slight drop in net migration but overall gains

The number of people moving to New Zealand or staying long-term has dropped back. slightly.

Official figures showed a seasonally adjusted net gain of 4,000 people in May 2014, compared with 4,100 the previous month.

Statistics New Zealand said net migration has been rising since September 2012, due to fewer people leaving for Australia, and more foreigners coming to New Zealand for work.

On an annual basis, there's been a net gain of 36,400 permanent and long-term migrants - the highest gain in more than a decade.

Senior economist at ANZ Bank, Mark Smith said the loss of 200 people to Australia in both May and April 2014 are the lowest monthly losses since the series of figures began in 1996.

"If you look at the respective unemployment rates which are more of a barometer of labour market strength, ours is likely to continue easing over the next few months. Australia's is likely to hold up where it is so, if you like, the relative attractiveness is more tilted in favour of New Zealand and we are seeing the flows to Australia sharply curtailing over the last year or so and this is likely to continue over the next six to 12 months."