China Southern Airlines will offer direct flights from China to New Zealand’s Auckland airport, starting on April 9.

Queenstown was forecast to take a 14% slice of the estimated 120,000 Chinese arrivals this year and the number of arrivals is expected to quickly increase, as more direct flights are scheduled and promotion continues.

New Zealand tourism revenue from Chinese arrivals is predicted to be $423 million in 2011, and to exceed revenue coming from the US in the next five years.

New Zealand’s analysis of Chinese Tourism preferences includes the following points:

  • An emerging Chinese middle-class, with a high disposable income is embracing products which were not traditionally part of their culture, such as red wine.
  • There is an emergence of Chinese semi-structured FIT (free and independent traveller) groups driving in cars.
  • The Chinese market is largely “dual destination” to Australia and New Zealand.
  • Chinese tourists spent four to six nights in New Zealand on average, and the duration is increasing year on year.
  • A typical Chinese holiday-maker’s expenditure is about $300 a night and second only to Japan.

China Southern had worked with Auckland airport and Tourism New Zealand to launch a $10 million marketing campaign in China, which began this month and will run until April.

More promotional activity will follow.

The Chinese campaign features Queenstown and its tourism products in television commercials and print media advertisements, including China Southern’s own publications.

Promotional image used by China Southern Airlines in its domestic campaign