The Government 's new international air transport policy should focus on improving air links with Asia and the Pacific Rim as these are priority regions for both tourism and trade, says the Tourism Industry Association (TIA) New Zealand.
"Asia and the Pacific Rim are driving growth in visitor arrivals to New Zealand," says TIA Chief Executive Martin Snedden.
"Future growth is also forecast to come out of Asia in particular, and it is critical we have sufficient air access to meet potential demand."
In its submission to the Government's International Air Transport Policy Review, TIA also highlights the need to secure air links with areas that provide non-stop or direct air routes to New Zealand as these are more likely to generate a faster increase in visitor arrivals.
Several countries showing emerging tourism potential for New Zealand are not currently served by non-stop air services, such as India and Brazil.
"Given New Zealand's distance from most of our important visitor markets and the fact that almost 100% of travellers arrive here by plane, air links are a crucial pipeline that will directly influence tourism growth," says Mr Snedden.
TIA's submission recommends the new policy focus on improving existing air services relationships and removing restrictions.
"We don't see any benefit in the Government negotiating new air service agreements with countries such as Poland and Israel when actual and forecast visitor arrivals from these countries are negligible and are not earmarked as future growth markets."
TIA also wants the significant role the country's national carrier plays in promoting 'New Zealand Inc' to be acknowledged in the new policy.
Mr Snedden says Air New Zealand makes a big contribution to tourism and encouraging economic growth, investing more in international tourism marketing than any other organisation.
"We are calling on the Government to develop a new international air transport policy that reflects tourism and trade priorities and New Zealand's wider economic interests. It should also support other initiatives that positively influence trade and trade, including supportive visa policies and seamless border processing."
Making travel easier is one of the tourism industry's priorities for Government action, outlined in TIA's Tourism Future 2011-14 -The Visitor Economy: Creating Wealth.
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