Auckland embarks on alliance with China Southern

City’s airport, Tātaki Auckland and Guangzhou-based airline sign MoU on joint marketing to bring more business event groups from China as conference activity rises and New Zealand International Convention Centre set to open in 2025

AUCKLAND is seeking to increase the number of conference and incentive groups from China through a new partnership between the city’s promotion agency, its airport and China Southern Airlines.

An MoU signed on Monday between Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, Auckland Airport and the airline forms the basis for the three to collectively market the New Zealand city as a business events destination for high-value Chinese corporate groups.

Park Hyatt Auckland MIX Meetings
Views surrounding the Park Hyatt Auckland, which is one of the city’s growing number of luxury properties as more corporate groups from China are targeted

Tātaki Auckland said in a statement that of the 210,000 Chinese visitors entering New Zealand since travel resumed between the two countries following the pandemic, 13,000 – or 6 per cent – arrived for business, conventions or conferences. The Chinese business travel segment has since recovered to 65 per cent of pre-pandemic volumes.

Auckland Airport chief customer officer, Scott Tasker, said the partnership would build on Auckland Airport’s daily direct flights provided by China Southern Airlines to their main hub in Guangzhou.

“We have seen a strong return of Chinese travellers since international travel fully resumed post-pandemic. Chinese travellers are attracted here by the opportunity to experience an amazing tourism offering that combines unique culture and incredible scenery. And let’s not forget our local expat Chinese community, which numbers around 300,000, also attracts friends and family visitation,” said Tasker.

 With such solid personal and trade links with China, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, Auckland Airport, and China Southern Airlines can see an opportunity to grow market share among Chinese businesses looking to hold an event or conference in a distinctive and memorable location.

Our three organisations have a history of working together and playing to our respective strengths. This partnership builds on that relationship to develop an exciting new market for Auckland’s conference providers.”
– Scott Tasker, Auckland Airport chief customer officer

Hotel capacity in Auckland has grown 23 per cent since 2019 to about 17,000 rooms in 2024, including new 5-star hotels such as Horizon by SkyCity, Intercontinental and Auckland Airport’s Te Arikinui Pullman.

The New Zealand International Convention Centre is due to open next year with capacity of up to 3,150 delegates for conferences. Officials said this would be a game changer for conference and event organisers.

Ken Pereira, head of Auckland Convention Bureau – a division of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited – said: “This is a ground-breaking agreement for Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, as it is the first time that the Auckland Convention Bureau has partnered with an international airline to boost Auckland’s profile as a business events destination in the Chinese market.

“This MOU offers us the chance to further strengthen our partnerships between Auckland and China – in particular across business events and incentive travel,” Pereira said.

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“Not only does Auckland have great tourism experiences that attract Chinese visitors, but the city is also a hub of innovation, home to three universities, and the base for many world-leading international and New Zealand-owned companies.”

Qu Guang Ji, executive vice president of China Southern Air Holding Company, said: “China Southern Airlines was the first airline from mainland China to operate regular passenger flights to Auckland when we launched the service from Guangzhou on April 9, 2011.

“Over the past 13 years, China Southern has transported a total of 2.53 million passengers between China and New Zealand. With the partnership of Auckland Airport and Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, China Southern will continue the commitment to being the ‘air bridge between China and New Zealand’,” Qu said.

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