Hon Murray McCully, Minister of TourismTourism
New Zealand is close to accessing a large and lucrative tourism market in China, according to Tourism Minister Murray McCully.
Mr McCully has returned from a visit to Beijing and Shanghai where he pursued `preferred destination' status for New Zealand with Chinese officials.
Currently Chinese nationals are only permitted to holiday in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Macau. Securing preferred destination status would mean New Zealand would become the first non-Asian destination for Chinese leisure travel.
Despite the present restriction more than 15,000 Chinese citizens still visited New Zealand last year, providing 'business reasons' as their prime justification, Mr McCully said.
``It is clear that a growing number of Chinese have the means and desire to visit New Zealand for holidays. New Zealand appeals to the Chinese as they perceive it as friendly and safe to travel in. If New Zealand can become an `approved destination' for China before North America and European tourism destinations, we will be able to establish a lucrative long-term market.''
During his stay in China, Mr McCully invited his counterpart to come here.
``Chairman He Guangwei, of the China National Tourism Agency, who is in effect their Minister of Tourism, has accepted both my invitation to visit New Zealand to see some of our attractions and to receive our formal application for preferred destination status," Mr McCully said.
Chairman He and his delegation will be in New Zealand for five days during May and will visit Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. Mr McCully said the approval was likely to be granted in conjunction with Australia as first time visitors were likely to want to go to both countries.