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Extended visas offered to draw Chinese visitors to NZ

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-04-10 10:07

WELLINGTON - Independent Chinese visitors to New Zealand can apply for longer stay periods from next month, the New Zealand government announced Wednesday, while releasing a government-commissioned review of the Chinese tourism market.

Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key, currently visiting China, announced the length of the multiple-entry visitor visas routinely granted to independent Chinese travelers would be extended from 12 months to 24 months from May 1.

"The extended visa makes it easier for Chinese visitors to come to New Zealand because if they return within two years they don't have to repeat the visa application process," Key said in a statement from his office.

The visa initiative was one of a series of recommendations in the report on how New Zealand can attract Chinese visitors and deliver quality tourism experiences.

The recommendations also included providing better market intelligence for tourism operators, higher quality tours, and making the most of Chinese visitors' interest in learning about Maori culture.

"China is our most rapidly growing tourism market and we need to ensure we're offering Chinese visitors the highest-quality experiences and meeting their expectations," said Key.

Over the past year, more than 200,000 Chinese visitors came to New Zealand, up about 38 percent on the previous year, and they spent around NZ$651 million ($554.65 million).

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, or MBIE, commissioned the report to ensure New Zealand understood and made the most of the market in China, New Zealand's second largest source of visitors, said MBIE tourism, sectors, regions and cities group general manager Lisa Barrett.

"A review of this caliber, conducted by tourism industry experts alongside government, is essential as China is very different from our traditional visitor markets. It has seen extraordinary growth, has a multitude of different market segments and cultures," Barrett said in a statement.

Among other recommendations to be implemented this year was a proposal to invest in a three-year China visitor market information program to inform the development of demand-led products.

"New Zealand needs to better understand how to make the most of the opportunities available in the China market, learning how to provide them with the best possible experience in New Zealand," Tourism Industry Association Chief Executive Martin Snedden said in a statement welcoming the report.

"At present, most Chinese visitors add a few days in New Zealand to their Australian holiday. We want to encourage these travelers to treat New Zealand as a single destination and stay longer to explore the country more extensively."

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