Kiwi immigration minister promises easy access for Chinese visitors

Published:  2 Aug at 6 PM
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Whilst members of the New Zealand government are urging the immigration minister to fix the cracks in the present immigration policy, Michael Woodhouse is in China smoothing the way for more Chinese visitors.

According to the Chinese Xinhua news agency, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse told the press that his visit is to assess travel and visa procedures for Chinese tourists. During his four-day visit, he is meeting with business leaders, ministers and officials, but at home he’s being roundly criticised for his apparent priorities.

Figures released last month showed that over 220,000 Chinese tourists arrived during the first six months of 2013, capping all other destination countries with the exception of Australia. Woodhouse believes that Chinese tourism will become even more important to New Zealand’s international education and tourism sectors, saying that increasing visitor and migrant numbers from new markets including China is essential to the NZ economy.

Inbound tourism is worth around NZ$9 billion a year, with much of the recent growth in visitors from China attributed to the China Southern Airlines direct flights which began in April. Controversy has also gathered around Immigration New Zealand’s visa facilities scheme with the Chinese airline.During his trip,

Woodhouse is expected to visit a top Chinese education consultancy, possibly to discuss a remedy for last year’s problems with bogus students and illegal visa advisors. The international education sector in Christchurch was badly hit by the two major earthquakes but, with rebuilding well under way, is expected to recover fully in the near future.
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