December 8, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

New Zealand’s international tourism spend is coming back, with international arrivals dropping NZ$1.03 billion in cash into the New Zealand economy in the September quarter, but it’s still well down on the more than $17 billion annual spend that was the norm pre-pandemic.

The latest reportable quarter is also the first during which the nation’s borders were full reopen to global arrivals, with the final entry controls removed on July 31 – although some entry requirements remained until mid-September.

Between July and September, holiday makers’ spend massively outstripped that of those visiting friends and family, despite both cohorts arriving in similar numbers.

Australians made up the bulk of the international tourism spend in New Zealand, dishing out $626 million during the three-month period.

“I’ve been confident that once New Zealand’s borders reopened, international tourists would return and spend throughout our regions and boost our economy. This survey shows that the world is still drawn to our fantastic country and international tourists are happy to pay for what New Zealand has to offer,” said New Zealand’s tourism minister Stuart Nash.

“Airline capacity also continues to increase and will average 70 per cent of 2019 levels over summer. We had over 151,000 overseas visitor arrivals in September alone which is a real boost for our tourism sector.

“This injection to the economy is likely to increase as NZ welcomes more international visitors this summer.”

Pre-pandemic, international tourism spend in New Zealand was $17.5 billion annually – or $48 million per day – and was New Zealand’s biggest export industry.

The $1 billion spend in the September quarter equates to about $11.9 million per day.