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Year of Tourism to boost links with New Zealand

By Karl Wilson in Sydney | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-01 11:34

"I expect 2019 will be a great year, not only for New Zealand but for China," she said.

Although Australia is still the No 1 source of tourists to New Zealand, current estimates indicate that China could overtake Australia by 2024.

For New Zealanders, China is now the fifth most popular foreign destination. Already, six Chinese airlines operate direct flights between China and New Zealand.

Stephen Jacobi, executive director of the New Zealand China Council, said the vast majority of New Zealanders want to see tourism links with China increase.

"China is currently our second-biggest source of inbound tourists, and this is projected to grow to around 800,000 visitors by 2024 ... outnumbering our (Australian) cousins across the Tasman," he said.

"In addition, according to our Perceptions of China Survey conducted last year, almost half of all New Zealanders say they would like to visit China in the future. So the China-NZ Year of Tourism is a fantastic opportunity to encourage visitors from both countries to explore each other's cultures," he said.

Earlier in the year, there was speculation that the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism would not go ahead due to perceived problems in the relationship.

"The problems proved to be unfounded. New Zealand and China may not agree on everything all of the time, but both are agreed that enhanced tourist flows help both countries," Jacobi said.

He highlighted that tourism is a driver of economic growth and cultural understanding. "The Year of Tourism offers opportunities to foster new relationships and strengthen current ones."

Kate Deng, who runs KateTravel, said at a conference on Chinese tourism in Wellington in December that many Chinese visitors to New Zealand were "free, independent travelers".

"They like to hire cars and tour, they like adventure holidays, ... in other words, experiences they can share with friends and family back home via social media."

Song Rui, director of the Tourism Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said at the conference that the main travelers are "millennials, born between the 1980s and 1990s, who perceive travel as a way to enjoy life, not purchase products".

"They love to share with friends and are a female-dominated group - 62 percent," she said.


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