Luring high-spending business and luxury travellers is behind the Government's plans to boost funding in the tourism sector by $158 million.
Tourism Minister John Key today announced details of Budget spending in the sector, including a $34 million boost for business events, including conferences, conventions and exhibitions, and $20 million to attract "very high-end" visitors over the next four years.
"Over the past decade, visitor numbers have been increasing but spend per visitor has fallen," said Key.
"As well as attract more visitors to New Zealand, we need to attract people who spend more."
Key said attracting conference and convention visitors is vital to growth in the tourism industry overall as they spend $318 per day, compared to $208 for the average tourist.
"New convention centres in Christchurch and Queenstown, and the proposed New Zealand International Conference Centre in Auckland, will allow New Zealand to host more, and significantly larger conferences," he said.
The conference sector will receive new funding of $7 million per year, increasing to $10 million by 2015/16.
A further $20 million will also be spent over four years to target the high-end tourism market.
The Government's investment roll-out also includes $28 million to help get new tourism initiatives off the ground.
"This investment will help us capture the benefits from growing the value and number of visitors, while creating new jobs, higher growth and increased export earnings," Key said.
"We expect this fund will enable the tourism sector to respond to new market opportunities."
The funding will also see the creation of the "Tourism Growth Partnership" a co-funding model designed to bring Government and the tourism sector together. The Government will contribute up to 50% to each initiative.
Immigration is also set to benefit from the boost to tourism.
Minister Michael Woodhouse announced Immigration New Zealand will receive $7 million over the next four years to help boost tourist numbers to New Zealand.
Woodhouse says $5 million will be spent on ensuring that visa application information is available in languages other than English.
The Chinese market would be the first priority.
"Many of our fastest growing markets require travellers to have visas to enter New Zealand, so it is important that we help facilitate this process to encourage tourism, while adequately managing risk.
"That's why the government is working closely with the tourism industry to develop a set of initiatives to help drive growth in the number of low-risk, high-value visitors from countries such as China."
The funding boost builds on recent initiatives to attract Chinese visitors, such as the extended 24 month multi-entry tourist visa and a new bi-lingual China section on the INZ website.