11 April 2011

China's largest airline makes first touchdown in Auckland, New Zealand

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The largest airline in China touched down for the first time in Auckland last weekend, while Tourism New Zealand is working closely with Immigration New Zealand to make it easier for Chinese tourists to obtain a New Zealand visa.

New Zealand immigration

The largest airline in China now operates a route to Auckland.

China Southern Airlines is the fourth biggest carrier in the world, serving 898 cities in 169 countries. In 2009, the airline carried more than 66 million passengers.

The airline's new route between Guangzhou and Auckland will run three times a week and is expected to bring 25,000 visitors in its first year, adding an estimated $75 million to the New Zealand economy.

Kevin Bowler, chief executive of Tourism New Zealand, predicted the new service will encourage longer stays to single destinations. Speaking of changes needed to be made to the New Zealand visa process, Bowler said: “In a way we are handicapping ourselves in terms of the visitor outcomes because people are coming as part of a group because it's easier to get their visa that way.”

Predicting Chinese visitor numbers in excess of 200,000, Bowler said: “In a way, chasing the volume is actually quite easy - I think the real challenge for us is to ensure that we capture high quality visitors who stay for decent lengths of time and participate in the activities that New Zealand has on stream."

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