China travel easier as ‘panda route’ resumes into Auckland

China travel easier as ‘panda route’ resumes into Auckland

The trade is being encouraged to take another look at selling China and not be put off by reported difficulties faced by clients needing to make payments while they are in the destination.

Lisa Li, managing director of China Travel Services (CTS) says it is becoming easier for New Zealand travellers to link their own accounts to apps like WeChat and AliPay.

Five-star hotels tend to accept major credit cards and cash is also accepted in many cases, she adds.

‘If people travel with us we supply a pre-paid card connected to China Union Pay, which overcomes any problem.’

Li’s comments come as Auckland Airport welcomes back a full complement of Chinese airlines with the return of Sichuan Airlines this week.

Sichuan Airlines’ touchdown in Auckland from Chengdu Tianfu International Airport after four years marked the sixth airline connecting New Zealand to China.

While much of the excitement has been around the China inbound market into New Zealand, Li says the service reinstates a gateway into a more relaxed China than offered by the tier one cities such as Shanghai and Beijing.

‘This gives New Zealand a taste of slow China. It is a good place just to watch the locals play mahjong or visit one of the many teahouses. High profile attractions to the area include spicy Sichuan food and the Panda Base (the service is being referred to as the panda route).

Scott Tasker, chief customer officer at Auckland Airport, says there will be seven destinations in China available to travellers from April, collectively flying 36 times a week and representing seat capacity recovery of 115% compared to 2019, over the New Zealand winter season.

‘We are seeing that Chinese airlines have confidence in the travel market between New Zealand and China, bringing high-value Chinese visitors who see us as a highly attractive destination to visit.’

Ian Peddie, Aspire Travel Group, was one of a small number of travel agents who attended the official welcome for the airline in Auckland’s CBD yesterday.

He says the service provides another way to get to Europe.

‘Sichuan Airlines flies to Rome, Prague, Istanbul and Helsinki among other places. The cheapest way to get to Europe is through China and this adds even more competition – which is always welcome.’

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