Air New Zealand’s announcement that it will start flying direct to Houston, Texas will help New Zealand’s tourism industry accelerate growth out of the important US visitor market, says the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA).
The airline will fly its refitted Boeing 777-200 aircraft between Auckland and Houston up to five times a week from December this year.
“The US is New Zealand’s third largest visitor market and one that is performing strongly off the back of a much improved economy and increased consumer confidence,” says TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts.
“US visitor arrivals totalled 220,512 in 2014, up 9.5% on the previous year, with strong growth continuing into 2015. A lot of that growth is being generated out of the western states. This new direct flight will open up opportunities to attract more visitors from southern and mid-west states and major east coast cities who can catch connecting flights into Houston.”
Roberts says US visitors spent an estimated NZ$771 million in 2014, an impressive 32% increase on 2013.
“This new Air New Zealand service will continue to fuel that dollar growth as we know demand is ramped up by direct flights,” he says.
Roberts says the Houston air connection is a great example of the tourism industry’s Tourism 2025 growth framework in action.
“Tourism 2025 identifies increased sustainable air connectivity as critically important to boosting the industry’s value from its current NZ$24 billion to NZ$41 billion by 2025. We also know that when a new sustainable air connection is established the whole industry benefits,” he says.