Visa changes for Chinese unlock opportunities: NZ tourism chief

Updated: 2014-11-21 10:09


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WELLINGTON - New Zealand's tourism industry is set to get a boost under visa changes that make it easier for Chinese to travel to and work in the country, the Tourism Industry Association (TIA) said Friday.

Under changes announced by Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit this week, Chinese working holidaymakers will be able to work for the same employer for up to six months.

"Workers with Chinese language skills are highly sought after by many tourism employers to enhance the visitor experience for Chinese travellers. The current three-month restriction has been a significant source of frustration for tourism businesses," TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said in a statement.

"TIA has lobbied hard for this extension because it means employers can gain more value from the on-the-job training they give Chinese working holidaymakers."

Roberts also welcomed the announcement of new visa initiatives for "high-value" Chinese visitors.

"Smart schemes to target high-value Chinese travellers to get the visas they need as quickly and easily as possible will make New Zealand more internationally competitive for this crucial market, which has grown quickly to become our second biggest source of visitors after Australia," he said.

Spending by Chinese visitors was forecast to more than double to 1.7 billion NZ dollars ($1.33 billion) by 2020.

"However, a successful focus on attracting high value visitors could see even greater value growth, not just for the next five years but well beyond," Roberts said.