WELLINGTON, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The number of overseas visitors to New Zealand last month was down 2 percent compared with January 2012 due to the timing of the Chinese New Year, the government statistics agency announced Wednesday.
Last month saw 260,600 overseas visitors arrive, with more visitors from the United States (up 3,500) and Australia (up 2,200) , but fewer from Hong Kong (down 1,500), the United Kingdom (down 2,400) and China (down 4,600), according to Statistics New Zealand.
"China is our second-biggest source of overseas visitors," population statistics project manager Deb Potter said in a statement.
"Chinese New Year was in February this year compared with January last year. Chinese people generally travel more around the Chinese New Year holiday, so we had fewer visitors from China and Hong Kong this January."
In the year to the end of January, almost 2.56 million visitors arrived in New Zealand, down 2 percent from the January 2012 year, with the largest increase in visitors from China, countering falls in established markets in the United Kingdom, France, and South Africa.
The government's Tourism New Zealand agency expected to see a " strong rebound" in Chinese visitor numbers in February, said chief executive Kevin Bowler.
China arrivals were down 19.6 percent for the month, but maintained annual growth, up 24.7 percent year-on-year, he said.
"With China now our second largest source of international arrivals, and the Chinese New Year being a peak travel period for the market, having this fall a month later has understandably affected arrival figures from China and the overall result," Bowler said in a statement.