9 Apr 2013

China tourism initiatives announced

9:48 pm on 9 April 2013

Two measures have been announced aimed at boosting the number of visitors from China who come to New Zealand and how long they stay.

The Prime Minister, who is in Shanghai on an official visit, says multiple entry-visas for Chinese tourists not in tour groups will be extended from 12 months to 24 months.

John Key says the extended visa makes it easier for them because if they return within two years they won't have to repeat the visa application process.

Mr Key believes the number of visitors from China could grow five-fold over the next five years.

President Xi Jinping says about 80 million Chinese people take overseas trips each year and expects that number to grow to 400 million over five years.

Mr Key said in Shanghai that could extrapolate to one million Chinese visitors to New Zealand every year.

He said New Zealand is very attractive destination and people come not only on holiday, but for a variety of other reasons including family visits, business and education.

The UN World Tourism Organisation said on Friday that the Chinese are now the single biggest source of global tourism income after spending $US102 billion while travelling abroad last year.

The total is 40% higher than the year before, well above the next two highest-spending countries, Germany and the United States.

Meanwhile, an arrangement with Immigration New Zealand that already exists for Southern China Airlines for fast-tracking visas for certain travellers from China is being extended to Air New Zealand.

Those with the airline's premium cards applying for a visitor visa will not have to provide evidence of employment and whether they have sufficient funds to support themselves.

However, they will still need to meet health and good character requirements, as well as evidence of onward travel.