NZ sees direct flights increasing visitor numbers up to 60%

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THE New Zealand government said it expects direct flights to boost visitor arrivals between the Philippines and New Zealand by as much as 60%.

“We expect that this will grow to more than 20% to 60%… We see a significant increase in the next 12 months,” Stephen England-Hall, chief executive of New Zealand’s tourism department, said in a news conference yesterday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern witnessed the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Tourism New Zealand. Ms. Ardern is in Manila for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

Tourism New Zealand said that more than 22,780 Filipinos visited New Zealand in the year to August, up 29%, due to “an emerging middle class and improved airline connectivity.”

Ms. Ardern said in her speech: “Auckland airport has estimated that new nonstop flight will inject $6 million into the New Zealand economy… I am certain that regular and convenient air links will enable greater people-to-people and commercial links between our countries.”

New Zealand considers the Philippines to be an emerging market, and is targeting families of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and migrants in New Zealand, students, as well as tourists seeking out New Zealand’s natural attractions.

Flag carrier PAL will be launching in December thrice-a-week direct flights from Manila to Auckland. Currently, the flag carrier flies to Auckland via Cairns, Australia.

PAL President Jaime J. Bautista said that if the market continues to develop, the airline can increase the frequency to five times a week.

The Philippines and New Zealand also signed MoUs on cooperation in the areas of energy and meteorological sciences.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, represented by New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines David Strachan, and the Department of Energy (DoE) signed an MoU to enhance cooperation in the areas of geothermal and hydroelectric power.

DoE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi told reporters that cooperation includes exchanges of information and training.

New Zealand’s MetService and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) signed an MoU on exchanges of data. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo