Could New Zealand accommodate another 200 million tourists over the next two decades?
Could Auckland Airport be five times bigger?
If we successfully position ourselves as the natural stepping stone between China and South America, for both tourism and trade, then we should brace ourselves for that level of growth, says Shanghai-based Professor Huang Renwai.
Huang was in Auckland this week to deliver a keynote speech to a conference co-hosted by the NZ China Council and Latin America NZ Business Council.
Called "Building the Southern Link", it aims to leverage the epic Chinese Belt and Road Initiative to position New Zealand as an important mid-point on the route to South America.
The Belt and Road, launched in 2013, is China's largest foreign policy initiative.
It will create a new economic zone based around the ancient Silk Road trade route from China overland to Europe (the belt) and China's ancient maritime shipping routes (the road).
There are more than 60 countries in the Belt and Road zone and China expects its trade with them to exceed US$2.5 trillion a year within the next decade.
New Zealand signed up early - in fact we were the first western nation to do so - even though technically we sit outside the original Belt and Road zone.
But the idea of a Southern Link - from South East Asia down to New Zealand and across to South America fits the broader framework of the initiative, said Huang, who is executive director-general of the Fudan Institute of Belt and Road and Global Governance.
After some teething troubles the Belt and Road is now moving to a new stage.
From an initial push by China to drive infrastructure projects over the last five years, there was now a focus on "joint building", Huang said.
This had been emphasised by President Xi Jinping at the second Belt and Road Summit earlier this year, he said.
Trade between China and Latin America is growing rapidly - it's currently US$300 billion a year, 22 times what it was a 20 years ago, Huang said.
So in theory the opportunity is enormous.
The Southern Link is built on the idea that New Zealand offers the quickest and most hassle free connection from China to South America.
That means new trade and travel routes between China, New Zealand and South America, in particular Argentina and Chile, that both Government and private sector groups should be seeking to leverage.
Conference sponsors included NZTE, Air New Zealand and both Christchurch and Auckland Airports.
Travelling via New Zealand clocks in as the fastest connecting to route from Shanghai to Santiago in Chile.
Chile is the second largest South American trading partner - behind Brazil but ahead of Argentina.
It is the South American country that does the most of trade with Chile as a percentage of total trade.
New Zealand runs a close second to US in connecting flights to Argentina.
But connecting through the US is becoming increasingly difficult for Chinese travellers because of visa requirements, said another conference speaker - Professor Chen Zhimin from Fudan University in Shanghai.
Some people were now reluctant to even apply for US transit visas given the level of disclosure required around things like social media data, he said.
"It is less convenient and will continue to be so for years to come," he said.
That was one of the advantages New Zealand had, he said.
The other was that countries in Latin America and the Southern Hemisphere were becoming a "more important engine of globalisation" as many Northern countries were becoming more inward looking.
It's early days but the idea of a southern link on the Belt and Road has some powerful local champions.
Minister of Trade David Parker opened the conference and former Prime Minister John Key addressed the audience by video link.
Former Trade Minister and US Ambassador Tim Groser also added weight to the local speakers list.
So what's the downside?
Well there's the trade war and the diplomatic sensitivities it creates for New Zealand.
Its safe to assume that the conference - and the broader initiative - are both on the radar of local US officials.
Talk of potential growth in technology links between the three regions inevitably lands on the 5G phone network - a flash point for US China tension right now and one of New Zealand's most awkward diplomatic dilemmas.
Huang noted that the Japanese is now involved in the Belt and Road but had not signed up to the initiative because of diplomatic sensitivities - preferring to refer to "third party cooperation".
NZ China Council executive director Stephen Jacobi acknowledged there were challenges - which were heightened current tech and trade tensions between the US and China.
But the idea of New Zealand as a link to South America wasn't a new one, he said.
While there had been some trade growth, links between South American New Zealand had proven difficult to grow.
"But its the chicken and egg situation, what comes first. It seems trade won't develop unless we have the connectivity.
"Belt and Road gives us a new framework and rationale for building this link," he said.
But there was another reason for pushing this now, he said.
The deteriorating trade situation globally, the rise of protectionism, the increased use of non-tariff barriers actually made initiatives like this more important.
"It is just getting a lot harder to develop new sources of trade and business growth," he said.
Traditionally New Zealand had looked to free-trade agreements and been very successful.
"But free-trade agreements today are in difficultly because countries are turning inwards and less likely to want to engage. "
Ultimately the corridor from South East Asia, through Oceania and on to South America was much larger than any other in the Belt and Road framework, Huang said.
"For China we depend on this region's natural resources, its agricultural products, mineral product and energy resources, also dairy and food industries," he said.
"So some people believe that with the trade war, China will depend more an more on these regions."
On top of that is tourist growth.
In the next 10 years more than 100 million people will tour to the South Pacific and South America, he said.
"So I think Auckland Airport should be five times larger than now," he said. "If you are thinking of the next 10 or 20 years and people flying from China to Latin America, they must stop at Auckland. How many people? Two hundred million."