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Chinese law change dents visitor numbers in New Zealand

Source:   Time:

WELLINGTON, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- The number of Chinese visitors to New Zealand fell by 12 percent year on year in October, following the introduction of a new law in China to protect tourists from unscrupulous tour operators, the New Zealand government statistics agency announced Friday.

Chinese arrivals last month numbered 13,568, down from 15,344 in October last year -- the first such decrease since April 2010 apart from Chinese New Year fluctuations, according to Statistics New Zealand.

"Although there was an overall drop in the number of Chinese visitors from the same month of the previous year, there were more Chinese travellers staying longer, more under 35 years of age, and more visiting friends and relatives in New Zealand," population statistics project manager Joel Watkins said in a statement.

Total visitors to New Zealand numbered 195,000 in October, up 6 percent year on year.

In the year ending October, visitor arrivals rose 5 percent from the previous year to reach 2.681 million, with more coming from Australia (up 48,000 to 1.2 million), China (up 43,100 to 234, 560) and the United States (up 13,100 to 192,160).

Tourism New Zealand general manager corporate affairs Chris Roberts said the dramatic change in Chinese numbers was expected after a new law came into effect on Oct. 1, requiring travel sellers in China to offer better quality, and therefore more expensive, group tour package.

"A big drop in short stay group visa applications, down 45 percent for the month of October, and a 43 percent increase in longer stay and individual visitor visa approvals, indicates a shift to a better quality visitor and visitor experience -- supporting our strategy to increase the value of the Chinese market to New Zealand," Roberts said in a statement.

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