A very special Chinese New Year

February 3 was an exciting day at the airport, with the arrival of a China Southern Airlines charter flight to celebrate Chinese New Year

More than 220 Chinese travellers to Christchurch and the South Island arrived on the flight, which was notable as the first Dreamliner to fly to Christchurch commercially, the first Chinese airline to fly to New Zealand's second largest city and the first China Southern Airlines charter flight to the South Island.

Between October 1 and December 31 2013, Chinese arrivals to New Zealand fell 9%, but the number of Chinese visitors arriving internationally into Christchurch Airport was up 21% on the previous year.

These are visitors who want to experience the Mainland. We know Chinese travellers who want to travel around the South Island are high-value visitors who spend more time and money in New Zealand than those who do not visit the South Island.

It's a fact that Chinese travellers are lured to New Zealand by the iconic images of New Zealand's South Island. This island is very much a key weapon for New Zealand in its bid to continue to attract high value visitors from China - research shows Chinese visitors to the South Island spend an average 3,400 NZ dollars per visit. Their total expenditure in New Zealand is $737 million dollars a year. Put simply, Chinese visitors coming to the South Island are good for the whole country.