Auckland and New York have forged a reciprocal tourism partnership ahead of non-stop flights between the two cities and as both are hit by fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.
The cities' tourism authorities will use their local expertise to market each other and share ideas about tourism strategy.
Auckland Tourism Events & Economic Development will spend $46,000 on the two-year initiative which will promote the city as Auckland as the ''perfect mix of city sophistication and a stunning natural playground''.
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In return New York will hope to build on the nearly 50,000 Kiwi tourists who visit the Big Apple every year.
In New Zealand the China tourism market was in decline prior to the coronavirus epidemic but it has plunged since the outbreak began and tough travel restrictions were imposed.
Auckland has been badly hit because the city is the main destination for visitors from China over the Chinese New Year.
Ateed chief executive Nick Hill said the new non-stop flights came at a good time to boost the growing United States market, the third biggest behind Australia and China.
In the year to last November 364,609 Americans visited New Zealand, up 5 per cent on the previous 12 months.
''What is important about this is that the focus is on the travellers with high disposable incomes. It's absolutely important to diversify the visitor markets that we're targeting.''
MBIE tourism estimates suggesting that more than 50 per cent of nationwide Chinese visitor spending in the February/March period are typically in the Auckland region.
Hill said the coronavirus-triggered downturn was hitting Auckland significantly where latest Ateed figures show tourism was worth $3.37 billion and contributed 3.5 per cent to the region's GDP.
''It's hard to know the impact - it depends on how long it plays out for. There are a lot of smaller operators who will struggle,'' he said.
''From our point of view we do need to try and stimulate demand from elsewhere whether that's domestic, Australia or the US.
''Marketing on bus shelters and wi-fi sites in New York would push shopping and phenomenal dining that was close to beautiful scenery and Māori culture."
New York attracts close to 13.9 million tourists a year, including 1.1 million Chinese, says tourism body, NYC & Company.
Its president and chief executive Fred Dixon said the impact of the coronavirus outbreak was starting to emerge and would be significant.
''Our diversified global strategy comes in handy in moments like this. We're pulling on all regions in the world in a diversified way.''
Dixon said New York had similar tourism partnerships with Madrid and London.
Dixon said New Zealanders ranked in the top five overseas spenders per capita in New York, spending $4100 on average and staying longer than other visitors.
''Kiwis are great travellers and the partnership with Air New Zealand will make it more attractive.''
Air New Zealand will fly the route three times a week using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft in its latest, premium-focused configuration.
With an expected flight time of 15 hours and 40 minutes northbound and 17 hours 40 minutes southbound it takes at least three hours off current indirect flights.
The flights will land at Newark in New Jersey. Dixon said tourist authorities in the area worked closely with each other.