New Zealand seeks a piece of the growing Japanese tourism pie

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The Independent Travel

Air New Zealand has more than tripled the number of charter flights between New Zealand and Japan later this year, saying that there has been a "resurgence in demand" from Japan during the New Zealand summer.

The move is a response to a strong market recovery, said Air New Zealand boss Edward Overy, and will see the airline tripling the number of charter flights it operates for groups of Japanese visitors.

The extra flights will be focused on tourists from secondary regions such as Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sapporo, Okinawa, Sendai, Kumamoto, Hiroshima, Miyazaki and Kagoshima and are in addition to the 12 flights scheduled every week between New Zealand and Tokyo/Osaka.

Figures released earlier this month from the Japan National Tourist Organization suggested that the number of Japanese travelling overseas has risen in the first six months of 2010, up 10.9 percent on the same period last year.

Departures to Macau, Hong Kong and China grew particularly strongly in May, the organization said, by over a third compared to the same period in the year before.

For New Zealand, tourism from Japan is the country's fifth largest overseas market, contributing almost 85,000 visitors in 2009.