In bid to increase tourism and trade the Government will consider applications from other airlines.

The Government says its fast-track visa scheme will be considered for other airlines besides China Southern, which already uses it, and Air New Zealand, which is in discussions to use it.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Nathan Guy yesterday said the discussions between Air New Zealand and Immigration New Zealand were in their early stages.

"Similar arrangements with other airlines will be considered to increase tourism and trade with China."

No other airlines had approached Immigration NZ.


China Southern Airlines gold and silver frequent flyer card holders no longer have to produce evidence of sufficient funds to support themselves, as long as they can show their flight records over the previous two years.

They would still need to get a visa, and still need to meet health and good character checks.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has criticised the deal as weakening border controls and produced Immigration NZ documents which show misgivings among senior managers.

Guy's spokesman said the scheme may have limited relevance for other airlines, given that visitors to New Zealand from 57 countries, including major markets such as Australia, Britain and the United States, do not require a visitor visa.

Tourist Industry Association chief executive Martin Snedden has said tourism destinations were competing to attract high-value Chinese visitors and New Zealand risked being left behind if our visa requirements were too strict.

China had grown rapidly to become New Zealand's third-biggest visitor market, with almost 187,000 arrivals in the past 12 months.

"It's not unrealistic to expect that those numbers may double within the next five years," he said.

Chinese visitors stay fewer nights at present and many tack their New Zealand holidays on to time in Australia.

Snedden said work was being done in the public and private sectors to identify the best ways of providing top-quality New Zealand experiences to Chinese visitors, and thereby grow their economic value.

"As part of that mix, TIA is keen to see a steady and balanced ongoing liberalisation of our Chinese visa processes, to contribute to an overall growth strategy."

China Southern has selected New Zealand as the location to host its top 250 travel agents from China for its annual agent incentive event next week.

Documents filed to the Ministry of Transport in support of a proposed agreement between Emirates and Qantas detail the expansion plans of airlines operating in this region and show Air China has a growing network of fast track immigration services.

The Air China service to London enables first, business and certain other passengers flying between London and Beijing to expedite immigration processes.