The Quarterly Tourism Report (QTR) provides insights into what is happening in New Zealand’s tourism sector

Welcome to MBIE’s first Quarterly Tourism Report. This is an experimental report intended to provide useful insight to the tourism industry and wider government on the state of play in the tourism sector in New Zealand, using existing available data sources and knowledge of the industry. We are looking to tailor these reports to be as useful to business and government as possible, to allow better use of data in strategic decision making.

We are very interested in any feedback, or suggestions on content, that we can provide for future releases. Please get in touch with us at TR_SharedMailbox@mbie.govt.nz.

The Report will help with initiatives from the Tourism Data Domain Plan

The Tourism Data Domain Plan (TDDP) sets out the main priorities for improving tourism statistics, based on agreement by industry and government stakeholders. The QTR fills some gaps identified in the TDDP. In particular, the QTR aims to improve data usability and capability within the sector. The QTR assists in the following specific initiatives:

  • Improve the usability of tourism statistics
  • Improve data user capability
  • Improve presentation of IVS data

More information on the TDDP is available here.


The commentary below presents the national context for tourism in the year ending September 2018 (and for the September 2018 quarter where available). The main tourism measures are showing relatively stable growth across the New Zealand tourism industry, supported by the continued increase in holidaymakers, and favourable exchange rates. Key findings are below:

  • International visitor spending grew faster than visitor numbers
  • Exchange rates are likely to have affected spend
  • Seasonally adjusted spend was down over the quarter
  • Holidaymakers continue to be the main source of growth in visitors to New Zealand
  • Guest nights continue to grow

International visitor spending grew faster than visitor numbers

Spending by international visitors in New Zealand grew six per cent to $11.1 billion for the year ending September 2018. This equated to an overall increase of $650 million over the year (although the growth was not statistically significant).

Over the same period, the number of international visitors increased by four per cent. Spend, however, grew faster than visitor numbers, leading to an increase of three per cent for average spend per visitor. Average international visitor spend over the year was $3,300 per visitor.

Exchange rates were likely to have affected spend

So what caused international visitor spend to increase faster than visitor numbers? One reason might be the fall in the New Zealand dollar against many of our major tourism markets over the year. This fall increased the purchasing power of visitors, allowing them to spend more in New Zealand dollars for the same amount of their home currency.

The following graph shows that the Trade Weighted Index (TWI) fell six per cent for the year ended September 2018. The TWI is an index showing the value of the New Zealand dollar in relation to our major trading partners.

Seasonally adjusted spend was down over the quarter

After adjusting for seasonal impacts, there was a fall in total international visitor spending of around 11 per cent for the September 2018 quarter, down from the high seen in the June 2018 quarter. This drop shows that spend in the September quarter was lower than might have been expected given usual seasonal patterns.

Holidaymakers continue to be the main source of growth in visitors to New Zealand

From the year ended September 2017 to the year ended September 2018, the number of visitors to New Zealand grew by 135,000. Of these visitors, three fifths (or 83,000) were holidaymakers, while almost a quarter (or 32,000) were visiting friends or relatives.