International Visa cardholders contribute NZ$2.8b to NZ economy


New Visa tourism report shows 9 of the top 10 visitor markets increased spend in 2016

A new tourism report by Visa shows New Zealand’s increasing popularity as an international tourism destination, coupled with global advancements in digital payments, is bringing significant economic advantages to the country, with international Visa cardholders contributing NZ$2.8b1 to the New Zealand economy in 2016.

According to the Visa Tourism Spend Report 2017, released today at the Auckland Airport International Travel Summit 2017 (‘Summit’), inbound spend via Visa increased by 12.3 per cent last year and overall transactions were up by 23 per cent year-on-year. 

Visa’s Country Manager for New Zealand & South Pacific, Marty Kerr, told Summit attendees the transaction data shows just how bly New Zealand is performing overall as a destination market for international visitors.

“This report highlights where the high-value visitors are coming from, which market segments are growing, the types of businesses reaping the greatest benefits from the tourism surge, and a unique insight into how New Zealand is performing compared to other popular destinations,” says Kerr.

“What we found most notable is that out of the top 10 nationalities coming to New Zealand - which represent 84 per cent of all Visa spend by visitors to this country - New Zealand improved its spend ranking across six of those inbound markets between 2015 and 2016,” says Kerr.

Visitors from Australia, USA, China, UK and Germany spent the most in New Zealand via Visa in 2016, with USA, South Korea, Japan and Germany delivering the greatest growth in spend. Only the UK, out of the top 10 markets, showed a decline in total spend in 2016 compared with 2015.

People were also spending more across virtually every spend category and almost all nationalities, including several emerging markets outside of the top 10, such as Argentina, Philippines and Ukraine which saw an increase in spend of more than 50 per cent.

Visa transactions made by visitors to New Zealand grew by a quarter in the 12 months to the end of 2016, rising from 14.8 million to just over 18.1 million2 – resulting in New Zealand outperforming Australia in key visitor markets of USA, Germany, France, Canada and South Korea.

“It’s pleasing to see New Zealand outperforming our Australian counterparts in more than half of the top nine markets by transaction volume. Overall, the inbound markets contributing the most to the increase in transactions were USA, China, Japan and Germany, each growing by more than 25 per cent. While the UK spend did decline slightly year-on-year, the number of Visa transactions made by UK Visa cardholders increased,” explains Kerr.
The report also shows Visa cardholders from South Korea, Singapore and China spent considerably more on average per transaction in New Zealand, and in some cases more than double that of visitors from Japan, Canada and USA, suggesting these markets represent a potentially higher value visitor.

The categories experiencing the greatest increase in tourist spend were restaurants, food and grocery, fuel and transport, and travel services, all increasing by more than 15 per cent compared to 2015.

According to Visa, cross border travel around the globe is estimated to rise dramatically by 2025, with spending reaching nearly US$2.15 trillion annually3.

The growth in inbound spend reflected not only a rise in numbers of visitors to New Zealand in the past year, but also the more prominent use of multiple forms of electronic payments. Use of Visa payWave by visitors grew by 116 per cent in 2016 and online and other non-face-to-face transactions grew by 17.5 per cent.

“The growth in Visa payWave transactions can be attributed partly to a growing number of New Zealand merchants accepting contactless payments, as well as the increasing number of markets adopting Visa payWave. In Australia, more than 80 per cent of all face-to-face transactions are made via Visa payWave4, so when our neighbours across the Tasman visit us, they want to use the same payment technology here,” adds Kerr.

“Globalisation and technology continue to open up travel opportunities for people.  Digital connectivity is enabling greater spontaneity and more personalised travel experiences, and it’s estimated more than 280 million households globally will be travelling internationally by 20255. These shifts represent a huge opportunity for the New Zealand economy, so making the visitor experience as simple and convenient as possible is fundamental,” Kerr concludes.

Click here for a full copy of the Visa Tourism Spend Report 2017.


1 VisaNet, December 2016

2 VisaNet, December 2016

3 Mapping the Future of Global Travel and Tourism, Visa Survey, 2015

4 VisaNet, December 2016

5 Mapping the Future of Global Travel and Tourism, Visa Survey


About the report
The Visa Tourism Spend Report 2017 provides insights based on all transactions performed by international Visa cardholders in New Zealand between 2015 and 2016. The data is based on face-to-face spend while travellers are in New Zealand; that is, transactions that have taken place where the purchaser is present with their Visa card or mobile device.

Two primary metrics have been included:

  1. Spend: The total dollar value of the transactions made, which provides the clearest way to understand the absolute value in any given year. 
  2. Transactions: The total number of individual transactions made, which provides the clearest way to compare different periods and different markets.

Visa transaction data has been converted from USD to NZD based on the average annual exchange rate advised by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ). All 2015 transactions were converted at the average annual rate of NZ $1 = US$0.7003 and all 2016 were converted at the average annual rate of US$0.6970.

About Visa Inc. 
Visa Inc. is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions, and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable electronic payments. We operate one of the world’s most advanced processing networks — VisaNet — that is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and assured payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa’s innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, pay ahead with prepaid or pay later with credit products. For more information visit and @VisaNewsAU.

Media contact
Ivana Tranchini
Visa Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific
02 9253 8841
[email protected]