New Zealand hopes for over half a million Chinese tourists by 2020

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Booming Chinese tourism to New Zealand is set to rocket ahead even faster, with many more than half a million visitors a year expected to arrive by 2020.

New Zealand hopes for over half a million Chinese tourists by 2020

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Booming Chinese tourism to New Zealand is set to rocket ahead even faster, with many more than half a million visitors a year expected to arrive by 2020.

There could be more arrivals from China alone, than from the United States, Britain and Japan combined if their latest annual figures remained the same.

China is already the second-largest market for foreign visitors, behind Australia with 1.2m arrivals a year.

The number of flights between China and New Zealand is set to double under a new agreement signed between the two countries, says Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

It was estimated New Zealand would receive more than half a million Chinese passenger arrivals a year by 2020, he said. Auckland Airport has estimated a figure closer to 600,000.

To accommodate that a memorandum of understanding was signed at the International Air Services Negotiations conference in Indonesia last week that will allow airlines from New Zealand and China to fly a maximum of 42 services a week a country, up from the previous limit of 21 a week.

Bridges said this year 252,000 Chinese visitors arrived in New Zealand by air compared with 108,000 in 2009.

“With increased air services, forecasts indicate that 509,000 Chinese people will visit New Zealand by air each year by 2020.”

House of Travel commercial director Brent Thomas said that was a conservative estimate and there would be no problem finding airlines to fill the 42 flights a week limit. The growth from China was largely a result of its ballooning middle class and an increase in Chinese business people visiting New Zealand who then brought their families for a follow-up visit, Thomas said.

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Auckland Airport spokesman Charles Spillane said the agreement was a great outcome for tourism industry and the economy by allowing more air services from one of New Zealand’s fastest growing tourism markets.

Chinese airlines would operate the previous maximum of 21 services a week this summer. China Southern would be operating twice a day from Guangzhou to Auckland, with plans to operate three charter services from Guangzhou to Christchurch for Chinese New Year in February.

China Eastern would fly daily to Auckland from Shanghai while Air New Zealand would continue to operate a daily service between Auckland and Shanghai.

Auckland Airport figures show Chinese visitor arrivals were up 45.1 per cent in October compared to October last year.

North Asian inbound markets also performed strongly last month, with visitor arrivals from Japan up 16.5 per cent, Hong Kong up 14.9 per cent, Korea up 13 per cent and Taiwan up 13.8 per cent on October last year.

Air New Zealand and Air China were also planning a strategic alliance that would create a new direct route between Beijing and Auckland for the first time since 2012, subject to regulatory approval. The two airlines signed a statement of intent last week as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to New Zealand.

The proposed alliance between the two carriers and Star Alliance partners would result in Air China flying direct between Beijing and Auckland.

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