The number of visitor arrivals from India to New Zealand has reached an unprecedented peak, soaring to 70,100 in the year ending August 2023, as per the latest data released by Stats NZ on Wednesday.
According to the data, India has solidified its position as the fifth-largest source of overseas visitors to New Zealand, trailing behind major contributors like Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China. Remarkably, India’s ranking as a visitor source has steadily climbed, moving from 19th place in 2003 to 10th in 2013, and further rising to 9th in 2019.
Tehseen Islam, the population indicators manager, revealed that approximately 60 percent of visitor arrivals from India in the August 2023 year came to visit friends and relatives, a significant increase from the 30 percent reported in 2003. This trend mirrors the expanding Indian community residing in New Zealand and the strengthening connections with India.
Furthermore, the overall overseas visitor arrivals in August 2023 stood at 206,800, equivalent to 82 percent of the pre-COVID-19 level recorded in August 2019. In comparison, the overseas visitor arrivals in August 2022 were 129,800, accounting for only 52 percent of the August 2019 level.
Notably, an additional 14,000 overseas visitors arrived from the United States in July and August 2023, compared to the same period in 2019. This surge coincides with the hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, jointly hosted by New Zealand and Australia, highlighting the global appeal of the event. For more detailed information on the Indian ethnic group residing in New Zealand, the 2018 Census ethnic group summaries can be referenced.
Following the gradual easing of travel restrictions since early 2022, overseas visitor arrivals to New Zealand have seen a significant upswing. The progressive relaxation of these restrictions allowed more individuals to cross the borders freely. Notably, from 1 August 2022, New Zealand opened its borders to all visitors and students, marking a crucial milestone in reviving international travel.
The resurgence in travel is underscored by the substantial increase in the number of international flights arriving in and departing from New Zealand. In August 2023 alone, a total of 2,800 flights landed in New Zealand, compared to 1,900 flights in the same month of the previous year (August 2022). This notable rise in flight numbers reflects the country’s robust rebound in the tourism and travel sectors.
In a record-breaking surge, New Zealand has experienced an unprecedented influx of immigrants, reaching an all-time high of 110,000 in the year ending August, as reported by Statistics New Zealand on Wednesday. This figure surpassed the previous record of 103,000 set just a month earlier.
Economists have noted that this influx, after a period during the COVID-19 pandemic where more people were leaving than arriving, has provided much-needed relief to employers. The surge is seen as a result of pent-up demand that accumulated during the pandemic, addressing the significant challenge faced by employers last year in finding skilled workers to fill vacant roles.
Experts, including Jarrod Kerr, the chief economist at Kiwibank, have pointed out that these numbers pose considerable pressure on a relatively small economy like New Zealand’s, as reported by AP News.
In New Zealand, the unemployment rate has remained at a relatively low 3.6%, reflecting a stable labour market. However, economists have issued a cautionary note, highlighting the significant resource demands associated with the influx of migrants, including the pressing need for tens of thousands of homes, which remain in short supply.
Recent statistics reveal that India was the primary source of immigrants, closely followed by the Philippines and China. Over the course of the year, the total number of immigrants reached a record high of 225,000. Simultaneously, the number of New Zealanders leaving the country also approached record levels, with 115,000 departing.
Notably, among those leaving, there was a net loss of nearly 43,000 New Zealand citizens, many of whom were enticed to Australia by promises of better wages. Under a reciprocal arrangement, both New Zealanders and Australians have the privilege to live and work in either country.
Economist Jarrod Kerr expressed concern over the departure of trained and skilled individuals, emphasising that it’s a matter of worry for the nation.
These figures have been released just three days before New Zealand’s general election, although immigration hasn’t been a prominent issue in the campaign. The primary focus of both major political parties has revolved around addressing the soaring cost of living, tax cuts, and crime-related concerns.