New service gives tourism boost

Tourism between China and New Zealand looks set to get a boost with China's largest airline starting a new route between Auckland and Guangzhou, it was announced today.

China Southern Airlines will run three flights between the cities (via Melbourne) each week, offering 88,000 more seats annually than are currently available.

Auckland Airport chief executive Simon Moutter said the new services were forecast to inject $50 million into the local visitor economy.

"Better connections with Asia, and in particular China, is critical for New Zealand trade and tourism,'' he said.

"With these new services from Asia's largest carrier, China Southern Airlines, to China's second largest airport, Guangzhou, we open up a vast range of new opportunities for New Zealand.''

China Southern Airlines chief executive Tan Wangeng said New Zealand was an aviation market with "huge potential'' and the service would serve the growing travel demand between the two countries.

"(It) is an important strategic step in the continued development of China Southern Airlines' role in the region,'' he said.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown also welcomed the announcement. 

"I am personally delighted at the opportunities that improved connections between Auckland and China will represent to our visitor economy. 

"As Auckland continues to develop into a truly global city, the importance of forging stronger links with the economic powerhouse of China cannot be underestimated,'' he said. 

The service is due to start by April 30, 2011.

Guangzhou is the capital of the Guangdong province and is home to close to 12 million people, making it China's third most populated city.