NEW ZEALAND — New Zealand’s tourist boom set in, and it could mean that tourists who visit other countries could see their tax money disappear.
Tourism Minister Paula Bennett said Friday that New Zealand has already received $1 billion in revenue from visitors from the United States, China and South Korea since July.
Bennett said tourism is worth more than $100 billion annually in the country.
“We are seeing people from all over the world come to New Zealand and the amount of tourists coming here to New England is incredible, and we are just seeing that continue,” Bennett said.
She said New Zealanders have also helped to grow the economy, with the tourism industry now worth $4.5 billion, more than triple its annual income of $2.3 billion.
It’s hard to overstate the impact that New England tourists have had on New Zealand.
Over the past decade, New Zealand is home to the most successful tourism industry in the world, with nearly two million people visiting the island each year.
New York City, the second largest tourist destination in the United Kingdom, is the third biggest in the Western Hemisphere.
The country’s economy has also grown from $5.4 billion in 2003 to $9.5 million in 2016, according to Bennett.
With New Zealand having only two tourists a day, Bennett said tourism can be hard to track.
People who are going to the US, for example, will go to New York City.
But they may not know that the money they are going for goes to New Bedford,” Bennett told reporters.
We have people that go to London and they go to St. Petersburg, they may go to Chicago.
It is very difficult to track who is who.”
Benny said New England visitors are also helping to grow New Zealand exports, which are worth $6.3 million annually.
Her tourism ministry has also seen the popularity of the country’s iconic Waikato Castle rise, from a small fortress in the middle of the island to the largest structure in the English Channel.
In July, the castle was placed on the International List of World Heritage sites, which includes the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Waikato Tourism said the castle is one of its largest property holdings in New Zealand, with more than 4 million square feet.
A visitor to the island can also visit the Waikatā Valley, a lush wetland filled with more or less 300 species of flowering plants, as well as many of the native species of plants.
The Waikatu Valley was the site of the last visit by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
After his death, he was buried in a plot at the castle.
Waiheke National Park, a national park with a world heritage designation, also has a significant tourism industry.
As part of the plan to restore the Waichana River to its original state, Bennett announced the restoration of Waikatae Lakes National Park to a new status of UNESCO World Heritage.