WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Credit card spending by Chinese visitors in New Zealand last year was up by almost a third from its 2011 level, offsetting declining spending by tourists from other traditional source markets, a major international credit card firm announced Wednesday.
Spending with Visa cards rose from NZ$53.6 million ($45.36 million) in 2011 to NZ$70.6 million in 2012.
The growth mirrored the increase in visitor arrivals from China and followed a 56.4 percent rise from the 2010 figures, Caroline Ada, Visa country manager for New Zealand and South Pacific, said in a statement.
“The increase in spend by Chinese tourists, and indeed the number of tourists themselves, shows activity by Tourism New Zealand and other tourism organizations is paying dividends,” she said.
Visa’s data shows the top 10 source markets in 2012 for spending were Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, China, Canada, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
Overall, international Visa account holders spent less in New Zealand in 2012 with the total declining by 8.5 percent to NZ$1.85 billion compared to NZ$2.02 billion in 2011, when New Zealand hosted the Rugby World Cup.
The figures represented the drop in total tourist numbers last year and the strong New Zealand dollar, said Kevin Bowler, chief executive of the government’s Tourism New Zealand agency.
“When it comes to China today, the story is consistently one of growth – growth in arrivals overall,” Bowler said in the statement.
Tourist numbers were down from 2.6 million in 2011 to 2.5 million in 2012, a decrease that could be partially attributed to the Rugby World Cup.
In the year to the end of February, Chinese visitor numbers were up 37.7 percent to 208,704, according to Tourism New Zealand.
The tourism industry remained a significant contributor to New Zealand’s GDP, bringing a total of NZ$6.2 billion during the 2011-12 financial year, and creating 119,800 fulltime jobs.