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New Zealand renewed an agreement that allows China Southern Airlines Gold and Silver frequent flyer card holders to apply for a visa without evidence of sufficient funds to support themselves. [Jing Wei / Asianewsphoto]
WELLINGTON - An agreement to enable it easier for big spending Chinese tourists to visit New Zealand will bring more Chinese visitors for longer periods, the head of New Zealand's immigration service said Tuesday.
The scheme allows China Southern Airlines Gold and Silver frequent flyer card holders to apply for a visa without evidence of sufficient funds to support themselves, as long as they can show their flight records over the previous two years.
Immigration New Zealand head Nigel Bickle on Tuesday renewed the agreement, which first came into effect in November last year, with China Southern Airlines in Guangzhou.
"China has now overtaken the UK as the second largest source of overseas visitors to New Zealand with more than 190,000 arrivals a year," Bickle said in a statement from his office.
"The bulk of the increase in numbers is a direct result of China Southern Airlines starting direct flights to Auckland two years ago and the new agreement is designed to boost numbers even more."
Almost 100 travelers have used the scheme since it came into effect and no compliance issues had emerged, he said.
"Immigration New Zealand is endeavoring to process applications under this scheme within five working days and there's no doubt that the scheme is operating smoothly," he said.
"I'm confident that the scheme will result in more Chinese visitors coming to New Zealand and staying for longer."