No cruise ship arrivals drive total arrivals & departures lower

International Arrivals & Departures September 2016

  Sep 16 Aug 16 Jul 16
Jun 16

Total Arrivals
8,451 10,324 8,823 11,896
Total Departures
7,896 8,649 9,859 10,328

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

The tourism industry slowed in September 2016, following a strong month of August 2016. There were no cruise ships arriving during the month, resulting in a decline in international arrivals1 by 1,873 passengers (18.1%) over the month. Last month, the Pacific Aria cruise ship had brought in 1,394 passengers. Arrivals by air also decreased by 524 passengers (6.1%) due to a decline in visitors. Yacht arrivals, on the other hand, slightly rose by 45 passengers (14.3%). The decrease in the number of international arrivals coincided with a slight fall in travel receipts of $0.2 million (2.3%) over the month.

The total number of international departures continued to decrease by 753 passengers (8.7%) over the month, which is attributed to no departures by cruise ships compared to the previous month. The number of visitors arriving during the month decreased therefore as expected, the number of departing visitors also fell pushing the total departures lower.

The total number of international arrivals for the year ended September 2016 grew by 13,526 passengers (13.5%), which is much higher than the recorded increase of 10,822 passengers (12.1%) in the previous year. All categories rose with air arrivals continuing to record the highest increase of 11,556 passengers (14.0%). The number of celebrations and events taking place during the year to September 2016 supported this growth. The introduction of the Air New Zealand Boeing 777 flights and the commencement of Fiji Airways direct flight from Fiji to Vava’u during the year also contributed to this annual rise. Additionally, cruise ship arrivals rose by 1,818 passengers (11.5%), as a result of more cruise ships arriving during the year. This may have supported the transportation, trade and other sectors of the economy. The higher number of arrivals is also consistent with the $10.7 million (13.9%) increase in travel receipts recorded in year ended to September 2016.

The total international departures also rose by 12,271 passengers (12.2%) over the year due mainly to a rise of 10,518 passengers (12.6%) in departures by air.


The international arrivals are expected to increase in the coming months due to arrivals of cruise ships. There are 2 cruise ships expected to arrive in October and November 2016 and 3 ships to arrive in December 2016. The upcoming events scheduled for the year may contribute to an annual rise, including the Channel College - Kelana 50th anniversary, Tailulu College (Tongatapu) 50th anniversary and Mailefihi Siu’ilikutapu 70th anniversary and annual church conferences. The signing of the mutual visa exemption agreement between Tonga and China and the setting up of the Chinese group tours is expected to attract more tourists from China. The completion of the renovation of the Tanoa Dateline Hotel is expected to also attract more tourists. 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 - September 2016






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