WELLINGTON, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- A record number of overseas visitors arrived in New Zealand last year, rising 6 percent from the previous year to top 2.7 million for the first time, the government statistics agency announced Thursday.
The surge in arrivals was led by increases in visitor numbers from Australia, China and the United States, according to Statistics New Zealand.
The 381,900 visitor arrivals in December was the highest monthly total ever, surpassing the previous high of 364,200 in December 2011.
Annual international passenger numbers exceeded 10 million for the first time ever in 2013, with 5 million arrivals and 5 million departures.
"International passenger numbers first reached 1 million a year in 1973," population statistics manager Andrea Blackburn said in a statement.
"Now, the same total can be recorded in just one month, as was the case in December 2013. By 1996, passenger numbers had increased to 5 million per year, and have doubled in the 17 years since then."
The extra 114,112 holiday arrivals last year equated to an estimated 365 million NZ dollars (298.44 million U.S. dollars) additional expenditure in the New Zealand economy, said Kevin Bowler, chief executive of the government's Tourism New Zealand agency.
Total arrivals from China were up 16.2 per cent for the year, but monthly arrivals down 10.6 in December continued to show the impact of the new Tourism Law.
The law came into effect on Oct. 1,2013, and banned forced shopping trips.
"This is very positive as we head into the Chinese New Year celebration starting tomorrow, which is historically China's busiest travel period," Bowler said in a statement.