WELLINGTON: The New Zealand government is to help fund the promotion of a new air service between South China and New Zealand’s second largest city of Christchurch as it continues its recovery from the earthquakes five years ago.
The government would invest NZ$1.5 million ($956,250) over three years to support Christchurch International Airport’s promotion of a new direct air service with Guangzhou, Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key said Thursday.
“This new service is great news for the people of Canterbury, who have worked hard to rebuild their economy over the past few years and are now beginning to see the benefits of their hard work, ” Key said in a statement.
“The tourism sector in New Zealand is in great shape. We’ve just celebrated our 3 million visitors in the past year. Those visitors spent NZ$8.7 billion ($5.54 billion), up 28 percent on the previous 12 months,” said Key.
“China is a major contributor to that growth. Annual visitor arrivals from China are up 23 percent in the past year to 315,200. Chinese visitor expenditure has topped NZ$1 billion ($637.5 million) for the first time. Here in Christchurch 61,000 Chinese tourists visited last year, spending NZ$43 million ($27.41 million).”
The government’s investment would help ensure the ongoing sustainability of the service and help deliver economic benefits to the surrounding Canterbury region, the South Island and the rest of New Zealand.
The investment followed NZ$270,000 ($172,125) in government funding late last year to help fund three charter flights operated by China Southern Airlines on the Christchurch-Guangzhou route.
“The goal of those charter flights was to secure long-term, regular services between Christchurch and China and prove the route could be commercially viable. I’m delighted we have been able to achieve that goal,” said Key.
China Southern Airlines announced last month it would start a new year-round service between Christchurch and Guangzhou from December. Christchurch was struck by a series of strong earthquakes from Sept 4, 2010, including a 6.3-magnitude quake that killed 185 people in February 2011.