29 July 2008

NZ still NZ's "number one export earner"

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Data released last week by the Tourism Ministry show tourists are spending more money in New Zealand than ever before, reports Voxy.co.nz, and the Tourism Minister Damien O’Connor is crediting the thousands of businesses and individuals who continually provide tourists with the quality they expect.

In the year to March 2008, figures show spending by international visitors increased by 2.7 per cent to reach $6.2 billion. 

Mr O’Connor said that although the industry is facing the same troubles as tourism around the world, such as rising oil prices and concerns about sustainability and carbon-offsetting, New Zealand tourism is maintaining its strong growth and its position as a major bread-winner for the country’s economy. 

"New Zealand continues to be New Zealand's number one export earner, contributing 18.3 percent of our exports," he added.  "This goes to show that many people who choose to come to New Zealand are prepared to pay extra for the quality experience they expect and receive when they get here."

The figures showed Australians were leading the pack in tourism spend, contributing to an extra $249 million in the New Zealand economy in the past year, making their total contribution reach $1.7 billion.  The steadfast tourism markets from the UK and Japan also spent a record amount of money when visiting New Zealand during the same period. 

Mr O’Connor believes the tourism industry in New Zealand is maintaining its international reputation as being a world-class destination for travellers because of its commitment to environmental, economical, social, and cultural sustainability.  New Zealand recently hosted the World Environment Day in Wellington, which gave the country the opportunity to prove to the world it is committed to preserving its world-renowned environment.  For example, some bus operators are now running on used fish and chip oil, and local governments have installed recycling systems for backpackers around the country.  The nation’s primary airline Air New Zealand is funding a research project to develop biofuel technology, and by the end of the year will be the first airline to fly long-haul flights using only jatropha plant oil.

"Today, sustainability concerns outweigh price when making a purchasing decision.  This is why in the past 24 months Contiki New Zealand has seen a growth in both outbound and inbound clients as more young people see coach touring as not only a fun, but also environmentally friendly way to see the world," Tony Laskey, General Manager of Contiki told the New Zealand Herald.

As UK residents make up a large part of New Zealand’s international visitor numbers, totalling well over 300,000 every year, many of these young travellers are keen to make up for their long-haul flight by making eco-friendly decisions at ground-level.  Most of these travellers from the UK arrive on a New Zealand working holiday visa, which gives 18 to 30 year olds the opportunity to work and travel in New Zealand for up to 23 months.  New Zealand has a special arrangement with the British Government that allows UK nationals to work and travel in the country for 11months longer than other participating countries in the working holiday visa program.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people emigrate to New Zealand.

Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.

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