Government support for airport's "Welcome China" project

Plans to welcome more Chinese visitors to the South Island have been boosted by today's Government funding for Christchurch Airport's "Welcome China" project.

The airport has become New Zealand's fastest growing entry point for Chinese visitors, with significant arrivals growth over the past twelve months.

General Manager Airlines and Alliances, Matthew Findlay, says the $270,000 investment in this market development work will accelerate and complement the strategic work the airport is already doing in conjunction with partners.

"In recent months, we have announced a partnership with GZL International Travel Service Ltd, one of China's largest travel agencies, to super-charge the growth in Chinese arrivals. This partnership will see both partners develop a South Island focused promotional campaign with South Island products to back this up," he says.

"To support this beachhead in China for the South Island we have completed a series of seminars helping South Island tourism operators become what we describe as "China Ready". Plus in February, we will see three further special direct flights from China to Christchurch, operated by GZL and flown by China Southern Airlines.

"The numbers of Chinese visitors to the South Island will undoubtedly grow this summer with the increased flights coming into Christchurch Airport. Many of them will use Singapore and East Coast Australia as access hubs, because Christchurch has an additional 80,000 airline seats from these hubs this year."

Statistics NZ data shows in the year to September 2014, Chinese international arrivals into Christchurch increased by 37%, the largest increase across the country (Auckland 1% growth and all of New Zealand 3% growth.)  

Overall, Chinese visitor arrivals into New Zealand increased by 8,040, with Christchurch accounting for 4,950 of them - 62% of the increase.

Mr Findlay says the Government funding is very welcome, not just for the airport but for the entire South Island, because 70% of international visitors arriving through Christchurch Airport visit other regions in the South Island.

"The South Island is 'Our Place in the World' and the place we know visitors want to see. We are committed to being passionate story tellers for the South Island, both here in New Zealand and on the international stage.

"Statistics reveal that when international arrival numbers increase at this airport, the whole South Island benefits. The Government has recognised this with its comment that the funding will improve visitor flows, support visitor recovery and therefore increase financial
contributions to the Canterbury region and the tourism industry. We appreciate this vote of support from the Government and look forward to delivering even more value to our city, region and the country."

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