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NZ tourism, migration boom continues

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/06/2016 Paul McBeth

New Zealand's booming tourism and migration were extended in May as the economy's two biggest support planks continued to set annual records.

Annual net migration reached a new record 68,400 in May, rising from 68,100 in the year through April, and up from 57,800 a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said.

At the same time, overseas short-term visitor arrivals reached 3.29 million in the year ended May 31, up from 3.27 million in the year through April and 11 per cent higher than a year earlier.

A swelling population stoking more activity and record inflows of tourists have helped offset the impact of a rural sector reeling from weak dairy prices.

At the same time, a rising population has posed problems for policymakers by fuelling demand for an already-stretched housing market in Auckland, while restraining wage growth.

Wednesday's data show the inflow of net migration is slowing with the seasonally adjusted monthly gain at 5,500, down from a peak of 6,200 in November last year. Visitors on work visas accounted for the bulk of new arrivals, up 11 per cent to 38,900 in the year ended May 31, while those on student visas were up an annual 8.3 per cent at 27,800.

The Treasury expects annual net migration will peak in June at 70,700, before returning to the long-run average of 12,000 by June 2019.

"We expect annual net migration to fall rapidly over the coming year or two, as foreigners who arrived on temporary work or student visas over the past three years begin to depart, and as the recovering Australian labour market begins to attract New Zealanders across the Tasman," Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said in a note.

Of those new migrants who arrived in the year, a net 31,600 settled in Auckland, followed by a net 7,000 moving to Canterbury, 2,900 in Wellington, 2,600 in Waikato, and 2,400 in Bay of Plenty.

The figures also showed there were more Chinese holidaymakers in May at 22,200 than the 20,200 Australians who came for a break, just the second time China had trumped New Zealand's closest neighbour.

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