Christchurch Airport has announced strong growth for the month of May, including a 26.6 per cent rise in Chinese arrivals, taking its annual growth to 8.5 per cent.
The increase contrasts with the national trend, which shows New Zealand’s annual visitor arrival growth decreasing by 5.8 per cent over the same time July-May time period.
“Our performance in many cases is very different from the national performance and our Chinese numbers are particularly strong,” said Chief Aeronautical and Commercial Officer, Justin Watson.
“The strong demand from the China market to experience the South Island has seen China Southern Airlines increase its seat numbers into Christchurch in the past two financial years by 50 per cent.”
Watson credited the South Programme, a collaborative group of the south island’s various tourism organisations, with helping make the region more accommodating and attractive for Chinese tourists.
A key part of the South Programme is the partnership with Chinese technology giant Alibaba, announced by Christchurch Airport in 2017, which allows Chinese visitors to pay using their mobile phones, using apps they are familiar with at home.
“The Christchurch-Guangzhou direct connection continues to perform well for us – so much so, that it is currently our airline’s top performing connection and is the only route between China and Australia/New Zealand which has increased over winter,” said China Southern Airlines general manager in Christchurch, Rebecca Huang.