September arrivals fall, Chinese 3rd biggest visitor group

BUSINESSDESK: New Zealand short-term visitor numbers fell in September compared to a year earlier, which were bolstered by the Rugby World Cup, and China has overtaken the US as the country's third largest arrivals group.

Some 179,100 short-term visitors arrived last month, down from 219,900 in September 2011 when they flocked here for the world cup, Statistics New Zealand says. That is up from 174,200 visitors in September 2010.

The monthly figures show China overtook the US as New Zealand's third largest visitor source in the September year, up 38% to 186,800. Visitors from US fell 2.8% to 180,100.

Auckland International Airport, the country's biggest gateway, is targeting growth from Asia, and China in particular, saying the region is set to provide the biggest growth in visitor arrivals by 2020. It believes China has the potential to generate more than 430,000 arrivals by 2020.

The majority of tourists from Australia, up 4.4% to 1.7 million, followed by the United Kingdom on 198,384.

New Zealand residents left on 208,000 overseas trips in September 2012, compared to 167,400 in September 2011 and 210,000 in September 2010. Last year's figure was lower because of people staying home for the Rugby World Cup, and a change in the timing of school holidays, the government department says.

The country reported a seasonally adjusted net inflow of 100 migrants in the month. The annual net outflow of migrants was 3300 in the year ended September 30.

Kiwis continued to quit the country for Australia in September, with 3200 packing their bags fto cross the ditch. Net outflows to Australia have remained relatively stable since March 2011, averaging at around 3300 a month.

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