China, New Zealand's second-largest tourism market, is set for further growth with an extra 20 weekly flights scheduled by the end of this year.
"More than 50 flights operate between China and New Zealand each week but I can tell you by the end of the year, more than 70 flights (will) operate between Auckland, Christchurch and the major cities of China, not necessarily those cities on the east bit of China but also you can go west, go to the hinterland of China," Zhang Fan, the economic and commercial counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand, told the New Zealand Tourism Investment Summit in Auckland. "This certainly gives the consumers of both China and New Zealand more options, more choices and also more competitive prices."
New Zealand tourism arrivals rose 11 per cent to a record 3.4 million in the year through September, with Chinese arrivals jumping 24 per cent to 406,000, according to the latest data. The conference has been organised by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce to help New Zealand businesses better capitalise on burgeoning growth in the Chinese tourism market and encourage Chinese investment in this country's stretched tourism infrastructure.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts told the conference new infrastructure was required to meet expected growth.
"There is investment happening, we just need a lot more of it," Roberts said. "We are currently experiencing unprecedented growth and there are very good reasons to expect that strong growth to continue. New Zealand undoubtedly is an attractive place to visit and more and more of the world wants to come here.
"The biggest concern today is a constraint of capital, will there be sufficient investment in time to respond to the demand and to maximise the potential of the tourism growth," Roberts said. "New Zealand would benefit greatly from more foreign investment in our tourism industry."
Still, some Chinese investors have suggested New Zealanders are more reticent to accept investment from their country.
"We are quite aware investment sometimes can be very sensitive in a foreign country, especially here in New Zealand when foreign investors come here to purchase land, however tourism in this country is facing a lot of challenges," the Chinese embassy's Zhang Fan said. "Challenges means opportunities."
"Our focus is not limited to just hotels, which was just a small part of the supply chain," he said. "We can broaden our view to a large area, to the whole supply chain of the tourism industry."