November 1, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

In the four weeks to October 9, 2022, 145,250 international arrivals poured into New Zealand, which is more than a 5,400 per cent increase on the same period in 2021, when New Zealand’s international border was largely closed, but remains significantly down on the 261,000 international arrivals clocked in September 2019.

Nevertheless, the New Zealand Government is optimistic for the pace of the recovery to date, which is impressive given New Zealand only started opening its borders to most countries in May, with the border fully opening at the end of July 2022.

Despite the number of travellers being significantly lower than pre-COVID, international visitor spending tracked at 88 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in the four weeks to September 25.

Nineteen per cent of bed nights in the current financial year have been booked by international visitors and the government is projecting a strong summer for New Zealand’s tourism industry.

“It’s wonderful to welcome international visitors to our beautiful country to enjoy our hospitality and the world class attractions on offer over summer,” said New Zealand’s tourism minister Stuart Nash.

“The numbers are showing that the demand for New Zealand is still there from international tourists.

“It’s been a tough time for our tourism sector throughout the pandemic, but I’ve said repeatedly that the commitment and dedication of the incredible people in the sector means we will come out of these past two years stronger and ready to embrace a forward thinking, sustainable tourism sector.

“I know this increase in visitors will put extra pressure on tourism and hospitality workers to deliver a world-class experience. In September we announced $2 million to Go with Tourism which is a unique approach to addressing labour supply issues in the tourism and hospitality sector that holds career expos and secondary-school education programmes across the country, promoting careers in the industry,” said Nash.

The more-than 10,000 working holiday visa holders than have arrived in New Zealand since its border started reopening may also help with the workforce shortages in the country’s tourism industry.

In August 2022, visitors travelling to New Zealand for a holiday officially outstripped those visiting family and friends for the first time since April 2020.

New Zealand is also onboard with the return of cruise ships to the nation, with 40 cruise ships expected to dock around New Zealand in the current year’s season, bringing up to 200,000 visitors and delivering an economic boost of between NZ$350 million and NZ$510 million.