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Record day for Christchurch Airport

It’s a red-letter day for Christchurch Airport, with the arrival of the first China Southern Airlines flight and the release of record passenger numbers.

The direct flight from Guangzhou brought 228 Chinese visitors to celebrate Chinese New Year in the South Island and marked the first time a Dreamliner has flown commercially to Christchurch, highlighting the increasing numbers of Chinese visitors choosing the South Island over the north.

New Chinese travel regulations have prompted a drop-off in the overall number of tourists coming to New Zealand, though those who do come stay longer to experience the South Island, which is outperforming the rest of the country, according to Tourism New Zealand .

Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Malcolm Johns says the company’s ‘Welcome China’ strategy is focussed on building international arrivals from China to New Zealand via Christchurch.

“It’s about bringing more people here,” says Mr Johns. “Our relationship with China Southern is key to this and has been in development for some time. It is a fact that the number of Chinese visitors to the South Island of New Zealand continues to grow.

“Over the past decade, the South Island has been the brand engine room for New Zealand in China. Images of our breath taking scenery – mountains, lakes, wide blue skies, green open spaces and adventure-based culture - attract Chinese travellers, which is good for the whole country.

“Over the past couple of years, the number of Chinese visitors visiting the South Island has grown substantially. Over the past 12 months, there was a 72% increase in Chinese tourism expenditure in the South Island. That can only mean mutual economic benefit and we, for our part, are working hard to continue to deliver increasingly high levels of visitor satisfaction.”

New statistics released this morning reveal recent records set at Christchurch Airport.

“Our total passenger movements recorded the best December since 2009,” says Mr Johns. “December was also a record month for domestic passenger movements, better than any single month since March 2010. The week ending December 22 was the busiest we’ve had for total passenger movements since immediately after the major 2011 earthquake.

“All of this makes Christchurch an exciting and energising place to visit, work and play.”

Mr Johns says Christchurch Airport’s growth is spearheading tourism recovery in the South Island.

“Benefits go beyond just tourism, as many industry sectors benefit from improving volumes and increasing access to the island via the airport– airfreight users and the education sector, for example.

“The recent additional flights from Perth and Singapore, as well as Japan charters have added to increased volumes. Overall, aircraft are fuller than last year too, adding to the increase.

“Just this morning, we received preliminary passenger volumes showing Chinese nationals coming through the airport were the highest January numbers we’ve seen. Last month, 2,874 Chinese nationals arrived here internationally, with 4,599 Chinese international arrivals and departures through this airport. Of course, that excludes Chinese visitors who come through the airport on domestic flights.

“Though the exact timing of Chinese New Year changes from year to year, statistics show the number of Chinese travellers choosing to spend their special holiday in the South Island is definitely on the rise.”


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