It's a red-letter day for Christchurch Airport, with the arrival
of the first China Southern Airlines flight and the release of
record passenger numbers.
The direct flight from Guangzhou brought 228 Chinese visitors to
celebrate Chinese New Year in the South Island and marked the first
time a Dreamliner has flown commercially to Christchurch,
highlighting the increasing numbers of Chinese visitors choosing
the South Island over the north.
New Chinese travel regulations have prompted a drop-off in the
overall number of tourists coming to New Zealand, though those who
do come stay longer to experience the South Island, which is
outperforming the rest of the country, according to Tourism New
Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Malcolm Johns says the
company's 'Welcome China' strategy is focussed on building
international arrivals from China to New Zealand via
"It's about bringing more people here," says Mr Johns. "Our
relationship with China Southern is key to this and has been in
development for some time. It is a fact that the number of Chinese
visitors to the South Island of New Zealand continues to grow.
"Over the past decade, the South Island has been the brand
engine room for New Zealand in China. Images of our breath
taking scenery - mountains, lakes, wide blue skies, green open
spaces and adventure-based culture - attract Chinese travellers,
which is good for the whole country.
"Over the past couple of years, the number of Chinese visitors
visiting the South Island has grown substantially. Over the past 12
months, there was a 72% increase in Chinese tourism expenditure in
the South Island. That can only mean mutual economic benefit and
we, for our part, are working hard to continue to deliver
increasingly high levels of visitor satisfaction."
New statistics released this morning reveal recent records set
at Christchurch Airport.
"Our total passenger movements recorded the best December since
2009," says Mr Johns. "December was also a record month for
domestic passenger movements, better than any single month since
March 2010. The week ending December 22 was the busiest we've
had for total passenger movements since immediately after the major
"All of this makes Christchurch an exciting and energising place
to visit, work and play."
Mr Johns says Christchurch Airport's growth is spearheading
tourism recovery in the South Island.
"Benefits go beyond just tourism, as many industry sectors
benefit from improving volumes and increasing access to the island
via the airport- airfreight users and the education sector, for
"The recent additional flights from Perth and Singapore, as well
as Japan charters have added to increased volumes. Overall,
aircraft are fuller than last year too, adding to the increase.
"Just this morning, we received preliminary passenger volumes
showing Chinese nationals coming through the airport were the
highest January numbers we've seen. Last month, 2,874 Chinese
nationals arrived here internationally, with 4,599 Chinese
international arrivals and departures through this airport. Of
course, that excludes Chinese visitors who come through the airport
on domestic flights.
"Though the exact timing of Chinese New Year changes from year
to year, statistics show the number of Chinese travellers choosing
to spend their special holiday in the South Island is definitely on