China flight 'timely'

The inaugural charter flight by China Southern Airlines into Christchurch International Airport last week has been labelled a ''timely boost'' for South Island tourism and the wider economy by the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand.

The special 787 Dreamliner flight, which travelled from Guangzhou to Christchurch with 228 passengers, was the first aircraft of its kind to fly to Christchurch commercially, the first Chinese airline to fly to the airport and the first China Southern charter flight to the South Island.

The Dreamliner returned to Guangzhou.

Association chief executive Martin Snedden said China had quickly grown to be New Zealand's second-biggest source of international visitors after Australia.

It was expected the number of Chinese visitors to New Zealand would continue to grow, particularly if it became easier for Chinese travellers.

Mr Snedden said the tourism industry's ability to ''successfully exploit'' the opportunities could only be strengthened by last week's flight.