14 November 2012

New Zealand visa fast track for Chinese frequent flyers

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New Zealand immigration authorities have reported struck an agreement with a Chinese airline to allow frequent visitors to have New Zealand visa applications fast tracked.

New Zealand visa

Frequent Chinese tourists flying with China Southern Airlines will have their New Zealand visa applications fast tracked.

Chinese visitors currently require a New Zealand visa to visit the country but under the new deal, those who visit on a regular basis will be able to a'void the necessity to answer questions' according to a leaked memo concerning the deal.

Immigration Minister Nathan Guy said the deal, signed with China Southern Airlines, would allow more 'high-value' Chinese tourists to visit New Zealand easier and more often.

"Planned to start from November 22, Gold and Silver frequent flyer card holders with China Southern Airlines will not have to produce evidence of sufficient funds to support themselves, as long as they can show their flight records over the previous two years," said the minister in a statement.

"This will make the visitor visa process more streamlined. At the same time though, applicants will still require a visa and need to meet health and good character requirements, as well as evidence of onward travel."

China's emergence as an economic giant has created a newly wealthy middle class with millions of people looking to travel abroad for the first time. Countries including the US and the UK have been scrambling recent months to make their countries more accessible to Chinese tourists, and New Zealand is no different.

"China is one of New Zealaand's largest tourist markets with around 160,000 visitors coming here last year, contributing about NZ$555 million (£285 million) to the economy," sad Mr Guy.

"However, they tend to stay for shorter periods of time. The aim of this new arrangement is to encourage more high-value tourists to visit and stay here for longer, producing greater economic benefit for New Zealand."

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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