This update combines the March 2023 data releases for:
Note that figures from the releases may not align fully due to them measuring different activities, data limitations, and wider economic factors. More information regarding these data releases can be found here:
Tourism data releases - Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Key points for March 2023
Tourism card spend figures in March 2023 continued to surpass pre-COVID March 2019 levels for both domestic and international markets. However, domestic spend and guest nights’ growth from pre-COVID levels have slowed down, possibly due to elevated costs, resulting in less disposable income for tourism activities. International guest nights were also trending closer to pre-COVID levels. At the RTO level, tourism card spend and accommodation in cyclone-hit Hawke’s Bay remained weak.
Accommodation Data Programme (ADP)
- Total guest nights still fell from pre-COVID levels — Nationwide, core tourism accommodation providers hosted 3.8 million guest nights in March 2023, down 6% from March 2019 levels. This decrease is an improvement from the 12% drop on pre-COVID levels recorded for the previous month.
- Domestic guest nights remained strong, international guest nights still down from pre-COVID levels — Domestic guest nights totalled 2.5 million nights (66% of the total guest nights) in March 2023. These were up 16% from March 2019 levels. However, the rise in domestic guest nights relative to pre-COVID levels has slowed slightly over the last five months from 19% in November 2022. In contrast, international guest nights have been coming closer to pre-COVID levels over the past six months. The March 2023 figure was about 70% of the March 2019 international guest nights.
- Similar proportion of unavailable stay units compared with last month — Nationally, around 12% of stay units in March 2023 were unavailable due to closures, maintenance, social housing, and other factors. This is similar to what was seen in February 2023.
- Hawke’s Bay still had the highest proportion of unavailable stay units — Coromandel’s proportion of unavailable stay units in March 2023 had returned back to pre-cyclone levels (22%), while Hawke’s Bay (40%) still had the highest proportion of unavailable stay units among all the RTOs due to property damage. Hawke’s Bay also saw the sharpest increase in the proportion of unavailable stay units, up 19 percentage points from March 2022 levels.
- The number of domestic guest nights in cyclone-hit RTOs contracted — In March 2023, Hawke’s Bay (down 39%), Tairawhiti (down 15%), and Coromandel (down 14%) were among the RTOs experiencing the sharpest decrease in domestic guest nights from March 2019. This decrease was due to a combination of low available capacity, road access issues, and consumer perception.
- Auckland and Queenstown had the highest occupancy rates — Auckland (81%) and Queenstown (80%) RTOs recorded the highest occupancy rates, well above the national average (65%) in March 2023. The high occupancy rate achieved in Auckland was possibly due to notable sporting and musical events in the month.
- High occupancy rates in motels and apartments — Motels and apartments had the highest occupancy rate (84%) among all types of properties in March 2023. The occupancy rate of backpackers (81%) more than tripled compared to March 2022, most likely as a result of having more international visitors and budget-conscious travellers since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tourism Electronic Card Transactions (TECTs)
- Domestic TECT spend continued to exceed pre-COVID levels — Nationwide, the increase in domestic spend relative to pre-COVID levels has been slowing down over the last six months, from 25% in October 2022 to 15% in March 2023. This is possibly due to elevated costs, resulting in less disposable income for tourism activities.
- Cyclone-hit RTOs saw declines in domestic card spend — In March 2023, Hawke’s Bay (down 15%) and Coromandel (down 9%) experienced the sharpest fall from March 2019 in domestic TECT spend among the RTOs. These falls were due to road access issues and consumer perceptions after Cyclone Gabrielle.
- International TECT spend continued to trend up from pre-COVID levels — International TECT spend in March 2023 was up 16% from March 2019 levels, higher than the 3% growth on pre-COVID levels recorded for February 2023.
- Monthly Australian spend still down from pre-COVID levels — Australia was the top spender among international markets in March 2023, followed by the USA.
There are issues with the Monthly Unique Regional Population Estimates
This update does not include the Monthly Unique Regional Population Estimates (MURPEs) as two issues were identified in the input data feeds. Our data provider resolved the first issue in March 2023 and is still working to resolve the second issue. They are aiming to provide us with full quality assurance checked MURPEs, including backdated data, by July 2023. Once we have more information, we will share a timeframe for release with users. Our top priority is to ensure any data release meets our strict data quality standards. We apologise for any inconvenience this delay may cause.
Our data provider’s full error report can be found here:
MURPEs stakeholder report – Tourism Evidence and Insights Centre
Only certain measures in the ADP can be compared to the Accommodation Survey
This update compares March 2023 to March 2019 for TECTs and ADP. Due to methodological differences between the ADP and the Accommodation Survey, only aggregated volume figures, such as guest nights, are compared at the national or Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) level.
Caution should be used with the TECT data
Domestic and international figures should be used separately and not added together. This is because electronic card transactions in each market represent a different proportion of total tourism spend, meaning they cannot be directly compared. More information can be found here:
Tourism Electronic Card Transactions - Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Next TIUG meeting will be held on the 22nd of June 2023 at 2.30-4.00pm
The Tourism Insights Users Group (TIUG) meetings bring together the sector to discuss the latest developments in the tourism research, data, and analytics space. They also provide an opportunity to ask questions about these developments. We are seeking presentations for our upcoming meeting. If you have any updates on the tourism research, data, and analytics that you would like to share, please contact us via our email here:
Tourism Research Shared Mailbox
Receive dynamic insight updates like this on your LinkedIn
The Tourism Evidence and Insights team at MBIE has a LinkedIn social media channel for the Tourism Evidence and Insights Centre (TEIC). This page brings dynamic and concise updates like this from the TEIC straight to your LinkedIn feed.
Tourism evidence and insights centre - LinkedIn
TECT and ADP data for April 2023 will be released in June 2023.
See our tourism data release calendar with release dates to June 2023.
Data release calendar - Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment