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Migration, tourism hits new highs in Sept

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/10/2016 Sophie Boot

New Zealand welcomed record migrants and tourists in the year through September, Statistics New Zealand says.

Annual net migration reached 70,000, surpassing the previous annual record of 69,1000 set in the year to August 2016. That was driven both by more arrivals and fewer departures, Statistics NZ said.

Migrant arrivals reached a record 125,600 in the September year, up 6 per cent on the year to Sept. 2015, with the biggest increases in arrivals from South Africa, China, Australia and India.

Annual migrant departures fell 3 per cent from 2015 to 55.700, with fewer departures to Australia and the UK. New Zealand citizens leaving to live overseas accounted for about 60 per cent of all migrant departures.

At the same time, overseas short-term visitor arrivals reached 3.39 million in the year ended July 30, up 11 per cent on the year earlier, with a 17 per cent lift in holidaymakers to 1.74 million largely responsible.

The Treasury said in the Budget that it expected annual net migration would peak in June at 70,700, before returning to the long-run average of 12,000 by June 2019.

Friday's data show there was a net gain of 2,000 migrants from Australia in the September year, the twelfth consecutive month to show an annual net gain from that country.

More migrants came in on work visas in the September year, up 10.7 per cent to 40,200 on a year earlier, with 32 per cent of migrants now arriving on work visas. Some 16,000 migrants, or 13 per cent, arrived using residence visas in the September year, up 15 per cent on 2015.

Earlier this month, the government announced it was tightening immigration policy for skilled migrants, with the range for residence approvals over the next two years lowered to 85,000-to-95,000 from a previous range of 90,000-to-100,000. People on residence visas in September mostly came from China, the UK, Samoa and India, Statistics NZ said.

Migrants arriving on student visas dropped 5 per cent to 25,600, while New Zealand and Australian migrants increased 4.5 per cent to 37,044.

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