New flight, mission seen to lift PH-NZ ties

TOURISM traffic between the Philippines and New Zealand will get a boost when Philippine Airlines (PAL) will launch a non-stop service from Manila to Auckland, New Zealand in December this year.

The flag carrier’s route service will operate thrice a day every Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from Manila to Auckland starting on Dec. 6. It will also have a flight from Auckland to Manila once every Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday.

PAL’s entry to New Zealand will mark the first direct connection between the two countries and is expected to grow tourism and trade, said Steven Dixon, New Zealand’s tourism regional manager, last Friday.

Dixon noted that this development is likely to support momentum in the fast-growing tourist flows between both countries. About 28,000 New Zealanders visit the Philippines each year, the official said.

Likewise, the number of Filipinos going to New Zealand keeps on growing each year, at 29 percent growth as of the latest count. At least 8,000 Filipinos spent their holidays in New Zealand.

The direct connection will also usher in tourism and trade opportunities in other islands in the Philippines, with Cebu likely to benefit, considering the expansion of its international airport by the middle of 2018.

Data from the Department of Tourism 7 show an 18.64 percent growth or 2,591 arrivals from New Zealand to Central Visayas from January to April this year. Cebu Province welcomed 2,002 from New Zealand.

PAL currently flies to Auckland but with a stopover in Cairns, Australia. With the new direct service, the airline announced it would cancel its existing Manila-Cairns-Auckland service on Dec. 5.

New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines David Strachan said that Filipinos are the country’s greatest assets in tourism. Filipino hospitality, alongside rich natural resources and history and culture, is what attracts New Zealanders to keep coming back to the country.

Strachan led an 11-member delegation to Cebu last Friday to meet with local officials and business leaders to raise New Zealand’s profile and explore opportunities for collaboration.

About 80 percent of New Zealand exporters are small and medium enterprises who could be the right match for Cebu’s entrepreneurs, he added.

New Zealand is exploring potential investments in food and beverage; wood processing and furniture; and information technology innovations.

Hernando Banal, trade commissioner for New Zealand, said that companies are investing in the country’s business process management industry by setting up back offices or shared services. There are also investments in renewable energy.

Trade between New Zealand and the Philippines stood at $553 million in 2014, up by 6.4 percent from the year before.
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