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Quarantine free travel with Australia saw boost in international visitors – Data Ventures

New population density data, provided by data consultancy Data Ventures, shows that Quarantine Free Travel with Australia led to an increase of international visitors by approximately 500 per cent when compared with the weeks prior.

The new figures show estimates of how many short-term international visitors were in the country before, during, and after the Quarantine Free Travel period, which opened on April 19 and was suspended on July 23.

During the Quarantine Free Travel period there was an estimated average of 19,000 international visitors in New Zealand on any given day. Short-term international visitors were defined as those who stayed for less than 90 days.

In the week after July 23, when Quarantine Free Travel was suspended, the number of international visitors fell to an estimated average of 13,000. Visitor number are likely to continue dropping while the borders remain closed.

In the weeks before Quarantine Free Travel opened on April 19, the number of short-term international visitors in New Zealand was steady at an estimated 3500 people.

Australians weren’t the only ones enjoying New Zealand between April and July – during the same period, an estimated 400,000 Kiwis, or eight per cent of the nation’s population, travelled outside of their home regions on an average day.

Robert Chiu, head of data at Data Ventures, said population density estimates, sourced from aggregated and anonymised mobile phone location data coupled with estimates of the number of people in New Zealand, offered unique insights into visitor movements during Quarantine Free Travel.

"It provides invaluable insights into people’s mobility, their behaviours, and at what time of day locations are busy or not. So, when assessing population density during Quarantine Free Travel with Australia, there was an obvious spike in international visitors. Encouragingly, many appear to have been reasonably well-spread throughout New Zealand.

"Domestic tourism also saw a spike more recently, during the July school holidays. On average, over the two-week holiday period, there were 455,000 New Zealanders outside of their home regions – almost 100,000 more than in the two weeks before the school holidays started. That’s good news for tourism, but last year these numbers were much higher. In the 2020 July school holidays, there were an average of 520,000 domestic visitors across the country – probably because this was the first school holiday period after lockdown ended. The largest drops in visitors from last year were seen in Coromandel, West Coast, Kaikoura, and Fiordland.

"This type of information is important to inform decision making, especially as private and public organisations alike seek to better match their services and support to small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"These insights are beneficial to many business owners who are able to leverage them to inform their commercial decisions. For example, business owners may find these insights useful when making plans around staffing for those times of year where tourism is at its highest, or for knowing what to expect next time Quarantine Free Travel opens up," he says.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s Tourism Evidence and Insights Team’s Acting Manager, Michael Webster, says Data Venture’s insights on population estimates are a valuable contributor to the Ministry’s Tourism Evidence and Insights Centre, a free, interactive resource for tourism businesses, policymakers, and the general public to access precise information about the tourism sector.

"The population estimate insights provided by Data Ventures are a great asset for our Tourism Evidence and Insights Centre.

"Our aim at MBIE has been to support businesses in making better, evidence-based decisions, and these data insights help to make that possible. The Centre is now the go-to database for tourism operators and businesses who want to build a clear understanding of what trends are arising in unpredictable times."

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