The New Zealand government on Monday welcomed the first commercial Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft to the country, saying the aircraft would boost Chinese tourist numbers.
Associate Tourism Minister Chris Tremain said the introduction of China Southern Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner, replacing the A330 on the Guangzhou-Auckland daily service, was a testament to the airline's commitment to New Zealand.
"China is now New Zealand's second largest tourism market and forecasts show that arrivals from China are expected to more than double over the next five years to 450,000," Tremain said in a statement.
The 787 Dreamliner would help meet that growing visitor demand by increasing their seat capacity.
"Along with the extra flights that were recently announced during the peak summer season, these changes will enable an extra 18,000 Chinese visitors to travel to New Zealand," said Tremain.
In the 12 months to September, more than 236,000 Chinese visitors came to New Zealand, contributing 645 million NZ dollars (535.58 million U.S. dollars) to the economy.
"New Zealanders are also increasingly interested in exploring China. Recent Chinese visa changes championed by China Southern now allow New Zealanders to stay in Guangzhou up to 72 hours without an entry visa to China," he said.