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Argentina to boost China links through NZ

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/10/2017 Pattrick Smellie
Key to the plan is air connectivity, with Air New Zealand's current three direct flights a week to Buenos Aires from Auckland a basic building block. © Getty Images Key to the plan is air connectivity, with Air New Zealand's current three direct flights a week to Buenos Aires from Auckland a basic building block.

Argentina's new, reformist government is seeking to accelerate the growth of Asian tourism to South America via New Zealand and Australia.

Its visiting deputy tourism minister, Ramiro Alem, has described it as a "look south" strategy.

In New Zealand this week for talks with Air New Zealand, Auckland International Airport, government officials and tourism bodies, Mr Alem said the fledgling government of Mauricio Macri is reaching out on numerous fronts to re-engage with global markets after a prolonged period of insularity.

"We grow up looking North," he said, referring to the inevitable magnet of the United States for Latin America and the region's heritage of colonisation by Europe.

"The opportunity to build the south-to-south connections is the central idea of what we have been discussing. Right now, Argentina is looking for the right partners to grow."

While the strategy is in its infancy, Mr Alem says Argentina sees opportunities for Australasia and South America to create a new focus for the flood of Asian tourists, especially from China, who have also tended to look most to North America and Europe for holiday options.

Key to the plan is air connectivity, with Air New Zealand's current three direct flights a week to Buenos Aires from Auckland a basic building block.

The service rises to four and five services per week during shoulder and peak seasons, and Mr Alem hopes to see the route grow to a year-round daily service over time.

A combination of tourism, international education and sporting links - increasingly rugby - are supporting the route, which Air New Zealand said had "performed well since its launch almost two years ago".

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