Quick Facts & Figures

The facts 

  • Tourism is a vital contributor to New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing, generating wealth and supporting jobs in communities around the country.
  • Tourism is New Zealand's largest export earner, overtaking dairy in 2015/16. 
  • Tourism and its contribution is felt at national, regional and local levels throughout the New Zealand economy.
  • As well as visitor expenditure, visitors contribute income to the Government through GST, the border levy, petrol tax and the income taxes paid by the 230,793 people directly employed in tourism (8.4% of the total number of people employed in New Zealand), and the company taxes paid by the thousands of businesses servicing visitors.  
  • The industry’s Tourism 2025 growth framework has a goal of growing total tourism revenue to $41 billion a year by 2025.


The figures*

  • Total tourism expenditure reached $36 billion in the year ended March 2017, up 1.9% on the previous year.
  • International tourism expenditure reached $14.5 billion (YE March 17), down 0.9% on the previous year.
  • Tourism is New Zealand's biggest export industry, contributing 20.7% of New Zealand's foreign exchange earnings.
  • Domestic tourism expenditure reached $21.4 billion (YE March 17), up 4% on the previous year.
  • International visitors are delivering $40 million in foreign exchange to the New Zealand economy each day of the year – one in five export dollars. Domestic tourism contributes another $59 million in economic activity every day.
  • Tourism generated a direct contribution to GDP of of $14.7 billion, or 5.9% of GDP.
  • The indirect value-added of industries supporting tourism generates an additional $11.3 billion for tourism - 4.6% of GDP.
  • 399,150 people are directly and indirectly employed in tourism in New Zealand - 14.5% of the total number of people employed in New Zealand.
  • The Government’s collection of GST from international visitors was $1.5 billion (YE March 17). When GST paid by domestic travellers is included ($1.8 billion), the total GST take from annual tourism spending is $3.3 billion. 
  • International students studying in New Zealand for less than 12 months generated $2.9 billion in earnings in the YE March 2017, an increase of 2.7% on the previous year.

(Based on the Statistics New Zealand Tourism Satellite Account year ended March 2017).