Travel and tourism generated almost 18% of New Zealand’s GDP last year and is set to rise further over the next decade.

The total contribution was worth NZ$47.5 billion – a figure projected by the World Travel & Tourism Council to account for 20% of the country’s GDP over the next decade.

The sector supported 212,000 jobs in 2017, or 8.8% of total employment.

More than 275,000 of jobs in New Zealand – 10.9% of total employment – are forecast to be dependent on travel and tourism by 2028.

The travel sector grew by 3.2% in 2017, outpacing the economy as a whole, which grew at 2.9%.

New Zealand is the 32nd largest travel economy in the world.

WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “Travel and tourism creates jobs, drives economic growth and helps build better societies.

“New Zealand is a prime example of this, as the country and its natural beauty is expected to attract over 2.7 million international tourist arrivals in 2018 alone. This represents a 3.9% economic increase from 2017 where visitor exports were responsible for generating NZ$14.5 billion ($10 billion).

“Tourism has risen up the agenda in New Zealand over recent years and I commend the government on its support for the sector.”

She added: “Going forward it will be vital for public and private sectors to continue to work together, with the close involvement of communities, to ensure that tourism growth is sustainable, inclusive and benefits everyone.”