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China becomes New Zealand's second tourism market by spending | Updated: 2012-11-06 14:11

WELLINGTON -- China is officially New Zealand's second biggest tourist market, after spending by Chinese visitors jumped by 37 percent in the year to the end of September, New Zealand's Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment announced Tuesday.

Chinese visitors spent 555 million NZ dollars (458.15 million US dollars) in the year ending September, which put them ahead of spending by travelers from the United Kingdom, on 545 million NZ dollars, for the first time, according to the ministry.

However, Chinese visitors would have to more than triple their spending to overtake New Zealand's largest tourist market Australia, on 1.7 billion NZ dollars.

The ministry's tourism research and evaluation manager Peter Ellis said the ongoing growth in Chinese visitors would have major implications for New Zealand's tourism industry.

"In the last three years China has overtaken Japan, the United Statesand now the UK tourist markets to become our second largest tourism market, as we forecast 14 months ago would happen around this time. The number of visitors from China has increased by 37 percent in the last year alone, and just as importantly, the amount they spend while here has also risen by 37 percent," Ellis said in a statement.

"The Chinese tend to have shorter trips to New Zealand than visitors from other countries, and their experience of New Zealand tends to be focused on Auckland and Rotorua, although Queenstown has been growing in importance in recent years."

The ministry was working with relevant agencies and the tourism industry on a China Market Review to identify how to improve the quality of experiences for Chinese visitors and maximize the potential.

Overall, the ministry's International Visitor Survey showed that total visitor spending had fallen by 2 percent, despite an increase in arrivals numbers of 2 percent.

Last month, Statistics New Zealand released figures showing the growth in overseas visitor spending had slowed in the year to March, with international tourism expenditure up just 1.6 percent, or 149 million NZ dollars, following a 1.8-percent increase in the year to the end of March 2011.

Commentators said the high value of the New Zealand dollar was hurting the country's international tourism industry, which contributed 6.2 billion NZ dollars, or 3.3 percent, of New Zealand 's GDPthrough spending by overseas visitors.

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