Asia’s big guns soak up Queenstown


Chinese delegates who jetted in on the first New Zealand-bound flight of Asia’s biggest airline are soaking up Queenstown’s best.

The 70-strong group landed in the inaugural China Southern Airline’s direct flight between Guangzhou and Auckland on Saturday, and are being treated to local attractions in their one-day stop off in the resort.

The visitors lunched at popular Queenstown eatery Botswana Butchery before a bagpiper led them to Steamer Wharf where they jumped on board the lady of the lake – TSS Earnslaw.

Destination Queenstown boss Tony Everitt welcomed the group to the “premier lake and alpine resort in the Southern Hemisphere” from the deck of the ancient steamer.

Everitt told the delegation as well as an excellent autumn, Queenstown had four very distinct seasons.

“So please come back again many more times with your family and friends to see the many seasons of Queenstown.”

A gala dinner is being held for the visitors at Millbrook tonight.

The airline’s three-weekly flights between China – one of the country’s fastest growing tourism markets – and NZ will be upped to daily flights later this year, the airline has confirmed.

Associate tourism minister Jonathon Coleman says the move is expected to increase visitors on China Southern to 50,000 a year – worth about $150 million to the economy.

“China Southern’s decision to increase its schedule to daily flights is a show of commitment in the New Zealand airline market. It also opens up many opportunities for New Zealand tourism in China.”

Coleman says by June, Immigration NZ will have a Visa Acceptance Centre operating in Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai to meet increased demand.