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NZ migration figures as 3 million visitor milestone

Posted on August 23, 2015
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New Zealand annual net migration rose to a fresh record in July, rounding out a year of record immigration gains, as more Indian students arrive, increasing numbers of kiwis return from Australia and more than 3 million short-term visitors, a proxy for tourists, arrived.

Short-term visitors rose 7 percent in the year to a record 3,002,982 arrivals in the year to July, according to Statistics New Zealand. Visitor arrivals in the month of July rose 6 percent from the same month a year earlier, to 208,000, a record for any July month.

“The expanding market of Chinese holiday visitors and steady growth of visitors from Australia” were big contributors to the 3 million threshold being passed, said Vina Cullum, population statistics manager at Statistics NZ. The country recorded more than 2 million short-term visitor arrivals for the first time in 2002.

A net 59,639 permanent or long term migrants came to New Zealand in the year ended July 31, up from a 41,043 gain a year earlier, and marking the 12th consecutive month where the annual figure has racked up a new record. Migrant arrivals climbed 14 percent to a new high of 117,132, while departures slipped 6 percent to 57,493.

New Zealand’s annual net migration already beat the Treasury’s forecast peak of 56,600, and is fast closing in on the 60,000 figure used for the basis of the Budget’s economic upside scenario. Under that framework, the Treasury expected faster growth over the next two years, as new migrants would fuel consumer spending before putting more pressure on the housing market.

Over the past year, the country’s booming migration story has been in part attributed to a downturn in Australia’s economy, on the back of a slowdown in the mining sector, which has led to fewer New Zealanders cross the Tasman, and more return. The inflow has been further bolstered by a doubling of Indian students arriving in the country.

Migrant departures of New Zealanders to Australia dropped 18 percent in the year to July, to 21,700, more than half the record 48,800 exodus recorded in December 2012.

Of the migrant arrivals in the July year, those arriving from Australia rose 7.9 percent to 24,300, with two-thirds being New Zealand citizens, Statistics NZ said. Indian arrivals increased 56 percent to 13,800, with 75 percent having student visas. UK arrivals fell 2.3 percent to 13,500. Chinese arrivals rose 14 percent to 10,400, with half having student visas.

Seasonally adjusted, permanent and long-term net migration rose to a record 5,700 in July, surpassing January’s 5,400 record, the agency said. A seasonally adjusted net gain of 200 migrants from Australia last month was the highest level since March 1991.

Kiwis also went on a record 251,000 overseas trips in July, up 8 percent from the same month a year earlier. The annual figure was up 5 percent to 2.35 million, as more residents took trips to Australia, the US, Fiji and Indonesia.

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