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New Zealand tourism bodies eye China, southeast Asia

08-22-2011 16:21 BJT

WELLINGTON, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand tourism chiefs said Monday they are expecting the number of Chinese visitors to the country to rise after "improvements" to the visa application process.

China, Malaysia and Singapore were among the few countries sending increasing numbers of tourists to the South Pacific destination in July, while established markets, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan and South Korea, were markedly down, according to figures released by the New Zealand government last week.

Even neighboring Australia saw a year-on-year drop of 3.3 percent in tourist numbers to New Zealand last month, with just 91, 664 Australians being welcomed.

Overall international arrivals were down by 3.7 percent year on year in July to 176,084, although arrivals from China were up 20.6 percent, and the figures from Singapore and Malaysia went up 17.3 percent and 74 percent respectively.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said Monday the "brightest news" was coming out of Asia, "where for the fourth month in a row, Singapore and Malaysia delivered double-digit growth on the back of the new aviation links that commenced in March and April this year."

"The growth story is similar for China and initiatives such as the recent improvements Immigration New Zealand has made to the Chinese travel visa application process, should help boost the number of Chinese visitors even further in future."

However, Chinese mainland travelers to New Zealand were told this month they would face an extra 220-yuan (34.43 U.S. dollars) "delivery fee" for the visa application service, which was now being handled by Swiss firm VFS. Travelers from Hong Kong would have to pay an extra 264 HK dollars (33.84 U.S. dollars) for the fee.

China Southern Airlines announced last week it was increasing its direct services between Auckland and Guangzhou from thrice-a- week to daily from Nov. 1 in order to cater to the growing demand. Enditem

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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