The UK was amongst the stand-out performers with a growth of 2.8 per cent for the 12-month period. Germany demonstrated the highest growth at 16.3 per cent followed by the USA at 11.3 per cent.
Data released from the International Visitor Survey also showed overall international visitor spend was up nine percent for the year ended March 2014.
UK visitors have been attracted by New Zealand’s premium offering with a number of new boutique lodges and hotels launching in 2013 and 2014, as well as new cycling experiences linked to the newly completed New Zealand Cycle Trail and the continuing impact of the country’s starring role in Sir Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Trilogy.
The recent Royal tour also saw New Zealand head to the top of the bucket list for many British travellers. A major Tripadvisor survey highlighted New Zealand as the country British holidaymakers would want to visit if money were no object; an analysis by Trivago showed a 70% increase in searches for New Zealand following the Royal tour and Travelzoo voted New Zealand the 'Top Inspirational Destination' in their Destination Survey released in May.
The international growth places Tourism New Zealand on track for targets set by ‘Tourism 2025’ and its aspirational goal to reach NZ$41 billion total tourism revenue by 2025.
The industry wide framework led by the Tourism Industry Association (TIA) and supported by Tourism New Zealand was announced this spring to focus efforts towards the theme of ‘targeting for value’. This strategy is aligned with Tourism New Zealand’s objective to grow the value of international visitors to New Zealand through increased investment in areas including premium visitor segments and special interest travel, in recognition that these visitors typically spend more than the average holiday visitor.
The results come as New Zealand’s biggest travel trade event TRENZ concludes in Auckland. 260 international travel and tourism buyers, including a delegation of 16 UK buyers, amongst them STA Travel, Flight Centre, Austravel and Gold Medal Travel, met with 300 New Zealand tourism operators during the event, held between 18-21 May.
Tourism New Zealand also used the event as a platform to announce a NZ$20 million extension to their Memorandum of Understanding with Air New Zealand. The announcement will see the partnership continue through financial year 2015 in key markets including the UK, with ongoing activity including joint Hobbit marketing and a focus on targeting high value visitors through the premium sector.
Next year’s TRENZ will be held in New Zealand’s birthplace of tourism Rotorua, with the rights to host New Zealand tourism's biggest annual international business event won by Explore Central North Island, a collective representing eight regions - The Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Eastland, Hawke's Bay, Ruapehu, Lake Taupo, Rotorua and Hamilton & Waikato.
Set in the heart of New Zealand’s geothermal areas, delegates will have the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of New Zealand's unique history, Maori culture and nearby Hobbiton.