No cruise ships in May results in lower arrivals & departures

International Arrivals & Departures
May 2016

  May 16 Apr 16 Mar 16
Feb 16

Total Arrivals
8,707 10,153 7,383 11,453
Total Departures
7,258 9,839 8,488 13,059

Note: Total Arrivals & Departures including air, cruise ship and yacht arrivals & departures.
Source: Tonga Department of Statistics

No cruise ships in May results in lower arrivals & departures

A significant fall in arrivals by ship drove the overall decline in the total number of international arrivals1 by 1,446 passengers (14.2%) over the month. There was no cruise ship arriving in May in contrast to 2 cruise ships arriving in April. This offset an increase in air and yacht arrivals by 2,007 (31.1%) and 237 passengers respectively. Majority of the air arrivals recorded in May were passengers from New Zealand, Australia and the United States, with the purpose to visit relatives and friends, and also for holidays. The events taking place in May including church conferences, and mother & father’s days may have contributed to the rise in air arrivals. Travel receipts however fell by $0.4 million (6.2%) to $6.5 million. The transportation sector, tourism sector and other sectors in the economy may have been negatively impacted by the decrease in visitors arriving during the month.

The total number of international departures also decreased by 2,581 passengers (26.2%) over the month, due to a decline of 3,698 in the number of departing visitors travelling by cruise ships. Departures by air and yacht increased but were insufficient to offset the decrease in the visitors departing by cruise ships.

Over the year, the total number of international arrivals continued to rise by 16,233 passengers (17.2%). This is due to a rise in both arrivals by air and by ship with air arrivals increasing the most by 12,398 passengers. Both number of Tongan residents and visitors rose, supported by events that occurred during the year. The strengthening of the New Zealand, United States and Australia dollars against the Tongan pa’anga stimulated high outbound travel from NZ, U.S and Australia during the year. The higher number of arrivals is also consistent with the $16.6 million rise in travel receipts in year ended terms.

The total international departures rose as well by 14,591 passengers (15.1%) over the year due mainly to a rise of 10,901 passengers (13.5%) departing by air.


International arrivals are expected to increase in the coming months due to the annual church conferences, Tupou College Toloa 150th anniversary celebration and the upcoming Latter Day Saints 100th anniversary. The setting up of the Chinese group tours and signing of the mutual visa exemption agreement between Tonga and China is expected to also attract more tourists from China. The National Reserve Bank of Tonga will continue to closely monitor these developments and the country’s economic developments to support economic growth.

1 - Includes Tongan residents and visitors

Download the full report: International Arrivals & Departures - May 2016






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