Spending by tourists visiting our shores has increased $3.7 billion in the past year, Statistics New Zealand announced today - and Tourism New Zealand says this cements the industry's place as New Zealand's top export earner.
Spending by international tourists in New Zealand in the year ended March 2016 increased 16.9 percent to $14.5 billion, and the number of short-term international visitors increased 10.4 percent over the same period.
Strong growth in overseas visitor numbers and a strong domestic tourism market have contributed to the increase.
"This is the highest level of international tourism expenditure on record and it's predicted to increase" says outgoing Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler.
"Increasing visitor numbers from across key international markets, on the back of expanding airline and cruise capacity, drove the increase in spending by international tourists," Statistics New Zealand national accounts senior manager Daniel Griffiths said.
Domestic tourism spending increased 7.4 percent ($1.4 billion) to $20.2 billion. This increase was particularly strong in the retail, passenger transport, and hospitality sectors.
In the year ended March 2016, tourism generated $12.9 billion - 5.6 percent of GDP, while the indirect value of industries supporting tourism generated an additional $9.8 billion for tourism, which was 4.3 percent of GDP.
Last year 3.4 million overseas visitors came to New Zealand and, at the current rate of growth, that will double in seven years.
Chris Roberts, Chief Executive of lobby group Tourism Industry Aotearoa, is calling on the Government to reinvest some its windfall profit back into the industry.
"Nobody is making more money from the tourism boom than Bill English and Treasury."
Mr Roberts said the Government needs to play more of a part in providing the infrastructure to support tourism growth, "The private sector is doing its bit, with hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on upgraded and new accommodation, attractions and activities.
"However, some regions with small populations, along with a few tourism hot-spots, face major challenges and capital constraints. They need more of a helping hand from Government."