Christchurch Airport attracts new Japanese charters

Christchurch Airport will welcome more Japanese travellers than ever this coming summer.

Twenty-two of 29 just announced charter flights from Japan fly direct to Christchurch, bringing the majority of the 6000 Japanese visitors south.

Air New Zealand will more than double its summer charters between December and March and fly from eight Japanese cities.

Christchurch Airport CEO Jim Boult says the charter services are a response to market demand, so are sure to be well supported by Japanese travellers, who simply love the South Island.

"Japanese travellers book to visit New Zealand because of images of majestic mountains, glaciers, lakes, big blue skies and wide open space," says Mr Boult.  "Of course all those sights and experiences are in the South Island.

"Visitors tell us the promise of those scenes and experiences starts to be delivered as they fly in over the Southern Alps to land at the airport. Their first holiday image of the mountains is taken through the window of the plane and the second is a similar shot taken from a window in our terminal.

"Add in the famous southern hospitality and you can see why Japanese visitors love coming here and go home to tell friends and family they must come south too."

Mr Boult says the charter programme will continue to build on the increasing numbers of Japanese travellers flying into Christchurch.

"Last month, for example, we saw a 13.2% increase in Japanese visitors, as well as increases in visitors from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Ireland," he says.

"The seasonal boost to traveller numbers which skiers bring has hit its peak and now we are starting to see bookings for travellers who want to see our summer scenery."

Mr Boult says Christchurch Airport is also seeing increasing numbers of domestic arrivals, some of whom are international visitors travelling around the country.

Numbers of overseas workers seeking employment in the city rebuild are increasing and other schemes currently under discussion with airlines to be revealed in the near future are also likely to increase southern visitor numbers.

Mr Boult says the charter programme is a great example of Air New Zealand working collegially with airports and tourism operators for collective advantage.

"Air New Zealand is the main source of Japanese arrivals into the South Island, through its summer programme and it's great to see the programme expanded in its fifth season," he says.

"The increased number of charter flights is a particularly welcome boost in numbers for us all and we applaud the airline's efforts. Japanese visitors are also amongst New Zealand's highest yield tourists, with an average per head spend of $3,700. This compares very favourably with other nationalities, for example Australia, where the average per head spend here is $1,500.

"It is also important to acknowledge the support of South Island tourism operators who have worked with us and contributed to the programme which will bring those Japanese visitors here. The Hermitage Hotel / Milford and Routeburn Guided Walks, Real Journeys and Skyline Enterprises are well respected operators who offer experiences overseas visitors look forward to. They, like we, look forward to welcoming our summer visitors."

Ryan Ingram, Director of Sales at Real Journeys, says Japan remains an important high yield visitor market for the business and the recovery in the market, so marketing initiatives such as this are encouraging.

"From a Real Journeys, Queenstown and South Island perspective, this is a great result because it makes the South Island more accessible for Japanese tourists," he says.  "That is exactly what we want so the charter programme has our full support."

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