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Chinese New Year boosts travel stats

The earlier timing of Chinese New Year boosted the number of visitor arrivals from China in January 2020, Stats NZ says.

This increase was just before any travel ban imposed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

"Monthly arrivals from China typically peak in January or February each year, depending on the timing of Chinese New Year," says population indicators manager Tehseen Islam.

The 2020 Chinese New Year started in late January before any travel ban. In 2019 it started in early February and in 2018 it started in mid-February.

The number of visitor arrivals from other parts of Asia such as Hong Kong and Taiwan also increased in January 2020, most likely due to the Chinese New Year timing.

Looking ahead to the year to February 23, provisional numbers indicate that visitor arrivals from China dropped roughly 40 per cent in 2020 compared with the same seven-and-a-half weeks in 2019 and 2018. There were 20,200 visitor arrivals from China in the week ending January 26, but this fell to under 1000 in the week to February 23.

In late January 2020, the Chinese government banned sales in China of international group tours.

On February 2, 2020, the New Zealand Government placed temporary restrictions on entry into New Zealand for all foreign nationals travelling from or transiting through mainland China and has since extended this to other countries.

"These measures aimed to contain the spread of COVID-19. This has seen a significant drop in the number of overseas visitor arrivals from China since January," says Tehseen.

In January 2020, the total number of visitor arrivals to New Zealand increased three per cent to 410,800 compared with January 2019. The largest increases were from China, up 6500 (15 per cent) and from Australia, up 4500 (three per cent).

Provisional international travel statistics are an early indication of short-term travellers arriving in and departing from New Zealand. The figures are provisional and understate arrivals, as not all arrival cards have been processed at the time of publication. Data for February 2020 will be finalised and published on April 14, 2020, in International travel: February 2020.

The total number of overseas visitor arrivals for the year ended January 2020 was 3.9 million, up 0.4 per cent from the year ended January 2019.

New Zealand residents arrived home from 326,300 overseas trips in the January 2020 month, up two per cent from January 2019.

The largest increases came from Australia, up 3800 (three per cent) and Japan, up 1900 (28 per cent).

The number of short-term travellers arriving back from China was 19,800 in January 2020, almost identical to the number in January 2019.

The total number of New Zealand-resident traveller arrivals for the year ended January 2020 was 3.1 million, up three per cent from the year ended January 2019.

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