Visitor arrivals from China fell 9 percent to 407,100 in the December 2019 year compared with the December 2018 year, Stats NZ said today.
The annual number of visitor arrivals from China has been falling since early 2019.
“Recent travel restrictions due to the novel coronavirus are expected to further affect the number of visitor arrivals from China, at least in the short term”, population indicators manager, Tehseen Islam said.
On 2 February 2020, the New Zealand Government placed temporary restrictions on entry into New Zealand for all foreign nationals travelling from or transiting through mainland China. The restrictions coincided with the usual peak travel period of Chinese New Year.
“Monthly arrivals from China typically peak in January or February, depending on the timing of the Chinese New Year holiday period,” Mr Islam said. “In February 2019, about 50,000 visitors arrived from China and, in February 2018, the figure was about 70,000.”
While 407,100 visitors arrived from China in 2019, New Zealand residents also took 141,600 trips to China in the year ended December 2019.
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Australia was the most visited country, with two in every five New Zealand-resident travellers arriving back from there.
“In 2019, we made 63 overseas trips for every 100 New Zealand residents,” Mr Islam said.
In the December 2019 month, the number of people returning from short-term trips was 194,500, up 20,200 from December 2018. Just over half of the returning New Zealand-resident travellers were coming from Australia.
Boxing Day cricket test a boost for Melbourne
New Zealand-resident travellers returning through Melbourne airport increased 10,600 to 38,400 in the December month 2019 compared with December 2018. The Boxing Day cricket test between New Zealand and Australia, held in Melbourne, contributed to the increase in the number of New Zealand-resident travellers flying back from that city.
“Sydney airport is usually the most common overseas airport for returning New Zealand-resident travellers,” Mr Islam said. “The number of short-term travellers returning through Melbourne airport in December 2019 topped Sydney airport for the first time, most likely because of the Boxing Day cricket test.”
The overseas airport of a passenger’s flight is the last airport where they boarded an aircraft before arriving in New Zealand, although they may have started their return trip from another airport.