Visitor numbers slowed in March
11 May 2011
The Canterbury and Japan earthquakes appear to have slowed visitor numbers in March.
Department of Labour figures released today show a drop of 15,000 in the number of overseas visitors in March 2011 to just over 104,000, compared with just under 120,000 in March 2010. However, total overseas visitor numbers for the first nine months of this financial year still are up by one percent, from same nine months in the previous financial year
Overseas visitor figures do not include visitors from Australia.
The overall increase is mainly due to an increase in visitors from China (34 percent up). The earthquake in Japan may affect visitor numbers from there in the next few months.
The Department’s Migration Trends Key Indicators Report shows that the number of residence approvals declined during the period to 28,675 people, compared with 32,359 for the same period in 2010 and 33,526 in 2009.
This fall was not unexpected and is the result of the economic slowdown that is continuing to have a significant impact on migration flows globally.
The report says that, like other OECD countries, New Zealand has not been immune to the decrease in skilled migration.
“Skilled people who might be interested in migrating are less willing and able to give up a job, sell their house and move to a new life overseas,” it says. “Additionally, fewer skilled job offers were available in New Zealand during the period. Opportunities are expected to increase once the economy recovers and the rebuild of Christchurch gains momentum.”
The number of people approved a temporary work visa in July-March 2011 was 105,434, compared with 101,321 approvals in the previous July-March period.
Student numbers also increased, with 61,138 people approved a student visa in July-March 2011, a 4 percent increase from the 58,859 who were approved in the same period in 2009/10.
The Department of Labour’s Head of Research Vasantha Krishnan says the overall increases in visitor, student and temporary worker numbers over the past 9 months are encouraging, given the Canterbury and Christchurch earthquakes.
“It will be interesting to see the full year figures for temporary migrants, because the current quarter is likely to be the telling one in terms of the full impact of the earthquakes on these numbers.”
The Migration Trends Key Indicators Report is available at http://dol.govt.nz/publications/general/monthly-migration-trends/11mar/index.asp