Chinese New Year bonanza for NZ
Auckland International Airport estimates the 2014 Chinese New Year has contributed $117 million to the economy, with 34,500 Chinese travellers visiting the country.
The Chinese New Year holiday period ran from January 31 to February 14.
Auckland Airport's general manager aeronautical commercial Glenn Wedlock said the two-week period was once again a crucial time for the economy and tourism industry.
"With the average Chinese traveller spending $3400 per visit, that means around $117m was spent during Chinese New Year," he said.
Passengers flying direct from Asia and China during the holiday spent almost twice as much as those on other flights, and the figure was up 22 per cent on the previous year.
Alcohol retailers were one of the big beneficiaries, with duty-free cognac sales doubling and New Zealand wine sales up 50 per cent, with one customer spending $11,000 on wine.
Chinese visitor arrivals were up 51 per cent in January, driven by the earlier timing of the holiday, which fell in February last year.
Wedlock said the NZX-listed airport had been working hard to develop programmes during the Chinese New Year, including special charter flights, Mandarin-speaking "ambassadors", and marketing activities in the international terminal.
Increased flights from China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines confirmed New Zealand's ever-increasing popularity as a travel destination, but the country could not become complacent, he said.
"As a country we must continue to innovate and promote ourselves to this significant traveller market, and we must continue to develop our knowledge of their [Chinese] culture and language," Wedlock said.
Meanwhile, Auckland Airport also reported its highest-ever volume of international passengers, excluding transits, for a single month.
More than 769,500 people entered the country last month, 7 per cent more than in January 2013 and 24,000 more than the previous record.
Auckland International Airport shares recently traded at $3.73, and have risen 32 per cent over the last 12 months.