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Why Are Aussies Skipping New Zealand As A Tourist Destination?

People relax at Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. File pic Photo: RNZ / Belinda McCammon

A quick look at the latest Stats NZ tourism figures might have you thinking New Zealand's tourism game is strong. And you'd be partly right. In April, 225,000 holiday-makers hit Aotearoa, up nearly 4,000 from last year.

But hold on. While Aussies made up 45% of those April visitors, their overall numbers actually took a nosedive—down by 6,600, Stuff reported. Brent Thomas from House of Travel spilled the tea to Newsable: Aussies are ditching NZ for South-East Asia, all thanks to better bang for their buck.

“We need to recognise that there is a cost of living crisis in Australia as well. Savings rates have dropped significantly, and people don’t have the same discretionary income,” Thomas said. “We can't afford to become too expensive for Australians to come to New Zealand.”

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Now for some good news. The void left by our Aussie mates is being filled by Chinese tourists, up by 10,400 from last April. Thomas credits this spike to better airline connections, which is a win-win for Kiwis too.

“We have a lot more airlines now flying to New Zealand than we did 12 and 24 months ago, which gives New Zealanders the opportunity to travel elsewhere,” Thomas pointed out.

Even though Chinese visitor numbers haven’t bounced back to pre-Covid levels, Thomas is optimistic. He expects a steady rise over the next few years as China's economy rebounds and more people look to tick New Zealand off their bucket list.

So, while there's some stormy weather ahead, there's plenty of sunshine peeking through for New Zealand tourism.

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