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Making hay while the sun shines

Summer is just around the corner and with it comes the opportunity for retailers to make the most of the peak tourist season. It looks like we might be in for a bumper season too, if the latest figures from Stats NZ are an indication – visitor numbers to New Zealand in August were up 5.4 percent compared to last year. Marty Kerr, Visa Country Manager New Zealand and South Pacific, shares more information.

By Marty Kerr & Sponsored content | October 16, 2018 | Sponsored Content

Inbound spend is a major contributor to the economy, and at Visa we are extremely proud to help facilitate global commerce, enabling tourists to pay conveniently and securely while they’re here. Just last year, spend from international cardholders contributed $3.4 billion to the New Zealand economy, with over a third of visitor spend (36 percent) taking place between December and February.

The good news for retailers is that the category benefiting the most is Shopping and Retail, with $365 million spent by international Visa cardholders from the top ten highest spending countries in 2017. That’s well ahead of Lodging ($298m), Restaurants ($224m) and Food & Grocery ($190m).

So how can retailers make the most of the season? For a start, it’s worth merchants knowing where tourists are travelling from to understand how they can meet the payment preferences and spending appetites of an increasingly diverse set of international customers. Top of the list for international Visa cardholders is Australia, which represents 28 percent of the market. Their numbers continue to grow, rising by 17 percent between 2016 and 2017, with the average number of payment transactions by Australian visitors increasing by 30 percent.

Australian tourists are also the most tech savvy, especially when it comes to payment technology. This isn’t surprising when you consider that in Australia 94 percent of all Visa face-to-face payments are contactless transactions.

There is a lot of talk about how consumers are fond of contactless technology but we know that merchants sometimes question what’s in it for them. New research from Paymark, which processes more than 75 percent of all electronic transactions in New Zealand, found that in the past three years, merchants that have enabled contactless have enjoyed more than double the sales growth (10.1 percent) than those that haven’t (4.6 percent). In addition, contactless merchants have seen more than double the growth in the number of transactions (10.2 percent) than non-contactless merchants (4.1 percent).

It has been pleasing to see that contactless makes a positive difference to the bottom line of retailers, who work hard and who have a great chance to capture tourist spend over the coming season. More and more high-spending tourists are expecting to ‘tap to pay’, with an increasing number of them adopting mobile and wearable payment technology. In fact, the Visa Inbound Spend Report, June 2018 showed the number of visitors paying by contactless grew by 95 percent between 2016 and 2017.

You can read more about the Merchant Contactless Study here and you can swat up on what tourists to impress by reading the Visa Inbound Spend Report 2018 here.


  • Visa Inbound Spend Report, June 2018
  • VisaNet June 2018
  • TRA/Paymark Merchant Contactless Study, May 2018 
  • Visa Inbound Spend Report, June 2018

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