OPINION: China's continued economic strength and growing middle class has seen sustained growth in Chinese visitor arrivals to New Zealand, writes Bill English (National) in From the Beehive.
This growth has been enjoyed in the south, particularly in places like Queenstown and Fiordland, and is extremely important to local tourism operators.
The Government is committed to tourism playing a strong role in the growth of the New Zealand economy.
Tourism is our second largest export earner and it's essential that we work hard to ensure it continues to add to the growth of the New Zealand economy.
The Government's focus is on attracting more high-quality international visitors and encouraging them to spend more money while in our country.
In line with this a new agreement with China Southern Airlines to make it easier for high-value Chinese tourists to visit New Zealand has begun.
Launched last week, gold and silver frequent flyer card holders with China Southern Airlines will not have to produce evidence of sufficient funds to support themselves, as long as they can show their flight records over the previous two years.
This will make the visitor visa process more streamlined. At the same time though, applicants will still require a visa and need to meet health and good character requirements, as well as evidence of onward travel.
Immigration New Zealand will be carefully monitoring the arrangement and it can be suspended at any time if necessary.
China is one of New Zealand's largest tourist markets with around 160,000 visitors coming here last year, contributing around $555 million to the economy.
However, visitors tend to stay for short periods of time and the aim of this new arrangement is to encourage more high-value tourists to visit and stay here for longer.
On top of this Tourism New Zealand continues to support growth in the Chinese market, targeting consumers who are aware of New Zealand and are already considering travelling to our country.
The Government continues to increase the investment in marketing New Zealand as a destination overseas and initiatives like this to encourage more high-value Chinese visitors to our country should pay off for southern tourism operators in the future.
» Bill English is the electorate MP for Clutha-Southland.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you agree with the census data?Related story: Wealthier and more diverse
"Our New Zealand" is a lovely hard-covered look at all that is good about NZ
A reflection in photos (audio slideshow)
Follow the adventures of Janelle King who is working in Kenya
You're missing the fit Russian blokes ... in tights!
Striking up a chat not the done thing