Less air arrival visitors push total arrivals lower

International Arrivals & Departures March 2017

  Mar 17
Feb 17
Jan 17
Dec 16

Total Arrivals
8,490 9,410 10,008 16,324
Total Departures
8,135 10,601 11,812 15,208

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

Total international arrivals1 continued to trend lower in March as it declined by 920 passengers (9.8%). This was solely driven by the decline in total air arrivals by 1,127 passengers (19.5%) due to 751 (26.5%) decrease in returning residents while visitors declined by 376 passengers (12.8%). The decrease in total returning residents coincided with the consistent decline in total residents departure in the past two months, and reflects less residents returning home as the Christmas and school holidays had ended last month. However, sea2 arrival rose by 207 passengers (5.7%) which included 10 passengers who had arrived by yacht.

The total international departures declined by 2,466 passengers (23.3%), in line with the decrease in total air arrivals. Air departure passengers declined the most by 2,674 passengers largely attributed to the 1,775 decline in non-Tongan passport holders leaving the country which corresponded to the decline in air arrival visitors during the past two months.

However, travel receipts over the month rose by $1.0 million (17.0%) to $7.1 million. Cruise ship arrival passengers, assuming all were first time arrival passengers into the Kingdom of Tonga, were estimated to derive a total $0.4 million of tourism earnings over the month.

Over the year to March 2017, the total number of international arrivals grew by 17,480 passengers (16.4%). Sea arrivals (assuming they are all visitors) increased by 12,007 passengers (65.5%) as a result of larger number of cruise ships arriving and a favourable whale season during the year. Additionally, air returning residents rose by 2,890 passengers (8.7%) followed by a 2,583 (4.7%) rise in air arrival visitors. The number of celebrations and events that took place during the year to March 2017 supported this annual growth which may have supported the transportation, trade and other sectors of the economy. The higher number of arrivals was also consistent with the $22.0 million (27.3%) increase in travel receipts recorded over the year.

The total international departures also rose by 12,735 passengers (11.7%) over the year due mainly to a rise of 11,549 passengers (68.2%) in cruise ship departures.


The Reserve Bank remains optimistic that the tourism sector will remain vibrant in the upcoming months. Tonga’s busy season is expected to start in April due to national sports competitions, annual church conferences, and meetings scheduled for the upcoming months. Hence, total international arrivals and departures are expected to rise consecutively in the near term. The Reserve Bank will continue to closely monitor the country’s economic developments to support economic growth.

1 - Includes Tongan residents and visitors
2 - Includes cruise ship and yacht arrival passengers


Economics Department
National Reserve Bank of Tonga

Telephone: (676) 24057
Fax: (676) 24201 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


International Arrivals & Departures - March 2017
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