The summer peak season has kicked off better than expected for the tourism industry, with international visitor arrivals showing strong signs of recovery.
Figures released by Statistics New Zealand show visitor arrivals were up 5.9 per cent (or 19,130 total visitors) in December 2009, compared with the same month last year.
Overall, visitor arrivals held their own for the 2009 calendar year, with only 120 fewer international visitors than in 2008.
Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler said the record month for arrivals reflected some economic recovery in a number of New Zealand’s key tourism markets.
“It was positive to end the year on a high, with December recording New Zealand’s highest ever visitor arrivals for a calendar month,” he said.
“Returning economic stability is leading to a rebound in some of our main visitor markets, providing some light at the end of the tunnel for many tourism operators after what was a difficult year in 2009.”
Australia continued to bolster growth, with the number of visitors from across the Tasman increasing by 106,000 (or 10.9 per cent) in the year ending December 2009. Holiday arrivals were up by almost 20 per cent to 457,000 visitors.