Fall in arrivals and departures driven by less cruise ship arrival

International Arrivals & Departures November 2016

  Nov 16
Oct 16
Sep 16
Aug 16

Total Arrivals
7,642 14,152 8,451 10,324
Total Departures
7,657 14,583 7,896 8,649

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

The economic activities in the tourism sector slowed over the month, returning the total arrivals and departures to the monthly average. Total international arrivals1 fell to 7,642 passengers in November, 46.0% lower than the previous month largely due to 4,145 passengers (63.2%) decline in total visitors. The only cruise ship that arrived in November 2016 brought in 176 passengers compared to 6,630 passengers in the previous month. As the whale watching season ended in October 2016, yacht passengers arrival declined by 74.3% to 88 passengers in November. Majority of the visitors were from New Zealand for holiday and visiting family and friends. However, air returning residents increased by 611 passengers (21.2%).

Accordingly, the fall in total arrivals was consistent with the 47.5% decrease in total international departures to 7,657 passengers, over the month. Furthermore, the fall in international arrivals coincided with a $0.5 million (6.6%) decline in travel receipts over the month.

Over the year to November 2016, the total number of international arrivals grew by 15,998 passengers (15.6%). Air arrival visitors rose by 6,857 passengers (13.0%), followed by 5,688 (18.4%) air returning residents. Sea arrivals2 (assuming they are all visitors) increased by 3,453 passengers (18.2%) as a result of larger number of cruise ships arriving during the year. The number of celebrations and events that occurred during the year to November 2016 supported this growth. This may have supported the transportation, trade and other sectors of the economy. The higher number of arrivals was also consistent with the $10.6 million (13.4%) increase in travel receipts recorded in the year ended to November 2016.

The total international departures also rose by 12,905 passengers (12.4%) over the year due mainly to a rise of 9,760 passengers (11.5%) 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
2 - Includes cruise ship and yatch

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

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