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China, Asia at center of Auckland Airport expansion targets

05-04-2012 14:31 BJT

WELLINGTON, May 4 (Xinhua) -- Auckland Airport, the main international gateway to New Zealand, is aiming to triple the number of services flying to China by 2020 as part of an ambitious plan to expand New Zealand's tourism industry.

The airport management Friday released the Ambition 2020 growth plan, saying there was potential to grow the number of international visitor arrivals from 2.6 million last year to more than 3.5 million in 2020.

"Asia, especially China, will provide the largest growth potential both in visitor arrivals and in the amount they will spend when they're here," said Glenn Wedlock, Auckland Airport general manager aeronautical commercial.

"China is a vital growth market for New Zealand and we see the market developing from 160,000 today to over 430,000 arrivals by 2020. More importantly, we need to target more direct flights, longer stay visitors and FIT (free independent travelers)/semi FIT visitors," said Wedlock in a statement.

Airport management believed the number of direct flight visitors could grow from 50,000 a year to 170,000 by 2020, he said.

"To achieve these results, and to achieve other ambitious trade targets outlined by the government, we will need to see air services between New Zealand and China reach around three times the number of direct flights today."

The airport would also be targeting Southeast Asian markets, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, which could " easily each develop into 100 million NZ dollars plus (80.02 million U.S. dollars) visitor spend markets."

Ambition 2020 set a target of 8.5 billion NZ dollars in overseas visitor spending in 2020, up from 5.76 billion NZ dollars last year.

The main contributing markets to the increase would be Asia, which was potentially worth 2.9 billion NZ dollars, with China providing 1.5 billion NZ dollars, Australia, potentially worth 2. 35 billion NZ dollars, North America (800 million NZ dollars), the United Kingdom (690 million NZ dollars) and Germany (290 million NZ dollars).

Asia would likely provide the largest growth in traveler arrivals, increasing by about 460,000 visitors a year to a potential 900,000 arrivals into New Zealand by 2020.

"If we take China as an example, their outbound traveler numbers are forecast to increase from 70 million in 2011 to 80 million by next year. If we want to gain our share of that, and other fast-growing markets, we must be more competitive and differentiate ourselves from other similar markets with the same or shorter flying times. We are prepared to invest and to develop proper plans to give ourselves the edge," said Wedlock.

Growing and sustaining more direct air services was crucial, he said.

"More than 85 percent of holiday visitors to New Zealand from China in 2011 still visited as part of a longer stay in Australia partly due to the lack of direct air capacity. For many of our visitors who arrive on dual destination holidays, or via another country, it usually means shorter stays and a significant dilution of their potential value to New Zealand."

Auckland Airport believed many more opportunities to deepen existing country markets existed through connections to relatively untapped regions, such as the Sunshine Coast, Perth and Adelaide in Australia, and Shenzhen, Qingdao, Shenyang and Chengdu in China.

Initiatives would include developing increased services, such as the Garuda Airlines memorandum of understanding signed by Auckland Airport as part of last month's Prime Ministerial delegation to Indonesia, the securing of China Southern Airline's daily service between Guangzhou and Auckland, the expansion of Air New Zealand in Japan and their opening of new services to Bali and the Sunshine Coast, and the expansion of China Airlines on the Taipei service.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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