Air New Zealand pushes Wellington in China with free domestic flight offer


Air New Zealand is to offer up to 1000 free domestic flights to the capital in a bid to lure Chinese tourists beyond Auckland.

On Monday the airline, which has direct daily flights between Auckland and Shanghai, launched a new campaign 72 hours in Wellington, in partnership with Wellington Airport.

The campaign will see up to 1000 visitors from Shanghai and Hong Kong offered the chance of a free connection from Auckland or Christchurch to Wellington.

Local tourism operators are providing offers at local attractions, hotels and restaurants, in a programme coordinated through the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency.

“Our 72 hours in Wellington campaign is all about making Wellington a ‘must-see’ destination for the hundreds of thousands of Chinese visitors to New Zealand every year,” Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said.

“China is New Zealand’s second-largest international travel market with expenditure by Chinese visitors to Wellington up 17 percent in the year to June to an estimated $52 million, so it’s important we continue to build on the work we’ve been doing and help visitors discover Wellington and promote what there is to see and do in the capital.”

China is now New Zealand’s second largest source of international tourists at close to 400,000 a year.

The rise has been driven by the growth of direct flights to  Auckland and Christchurch, with only a fraction of the total number visiting Wellington.

Wellington Airport chief executive Steven Sanderson said the capital was becoming a more prominent destination for Chinese visitors.

“Wellington has a fantastic tourism product and the city has seen a significant increase in Chinese visitor spend relative to other parts of the country,” Sanderson said.

“This campaign is part of a wider strategy to encourage more travellers across Asia to visit the Wellington region.”

David Perks, general manager of venues, marketing and destination of WREDA, said groups ranging from Zealandia to Tuatara’s Third Eye establishment were offering special deals for the promotion, which would target higher spending portions of the Chinese market.

“Whilst New Zealand gets a large number of Chinese tourists, Wellington is under represented. However, we recognise that Chinese visitor profiles are evolving beyond package tours to include more high-end independent travellers. The 72 hours in Wellington campaign targets those travellers.”

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