Connecting Auckland with high value Chinese business travellers is the impetus behind a new partnership between Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, Auckland Airport, and China Southern Airlines.

Signed today, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) will see the three organisations work together to grow Auckland as a destination for Chinese business travellers, particularly for conferences and meetings, trade exhibitions, and business incentive travel.

Of the 210,000 Chinese visitors entering New Zealand since travel resumed between the two countries, 13,000 – or 6 % – were here for business, conventions or conferences with the Chinese business travel segment recovered to 65% of pre-pandemic volumes.

​Auckland Airport Chief Customer Officer, Scott Tasker, says the partnership aims to build on Auckland Airport’s daily non-stop connectivity provided by China Southern Airlines to their main hub airport in the southern city of Guangzhou, to grow business travel visitation.

“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.  

“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,” Mr Tasker says.

“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.”

Hotel capacity in Auckland has grown 23% 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 opening next year with capacity of up to 3,150 delegates for conferences will be a game changer for conference and events organisers.

Ken Pereira, Head of Auckland Convention Bureau – a division of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited – says Auckland offers world-class opportunities for business travellers to connect, share knowledge, and forge lasting memories.

“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,” Mr Pereira said.

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

“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,” said Mr Pereira.

“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,” Guangji Qu, Executive Vice President of China Southern Air Holding Company Limited says.

“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’."

Following the signing of this agreement the three organisations will begin working together to collectively market Auckland as a meeting, conference, trade exhibition and incentive travel destination for Chinese businesses and their staff.