Cheap fuel means record tourist numbers

Cheap fuel means record tourist numbers

It's getting cheaper and easier to fly around New Zealand and overseas. Record low fuel prices have seen existing routes get cheaper and new routes open up.

The list of potential holidays just keeps getting longer as New Zealand centres add more flights and more destinations.

"Mainly it's because of the growth out of Southeast Asia," says House of Travel CEO Brent Thomas. "There's so many people wanting to come from that area.

"Basically it comes down to competition -- that's the key thing that drives pricing -- and also we've got the benefit of low oil prices."

In just the past six months AirAsia X began flying Auckland to Kuala Lumpur and Air New Zealand began flying to Vietnam, Buenos Aires and non-stop to Houston.

In direct competition, American Airlines will begin their Auckland to LA flights from July, with United Airlines launching their San Francisco route then too.

China Southern increased its flights to Guangzhou, China Eastern is now flying daily to Shanghai, Philippine Airlines began its Manila to Auckland flight via Cairns in December, and Emirates is introducing direct flights to Dubai on top of their three daily A380 flights from Australia.

While not confirmed, Qatar Airlines is looking at flying the longest route in the world -- 18 hours from Auckland to Doha.

With the increased flights come record numbers of visitors. In December alone, more than 444,000 people arrived -- more than any other month ever. Those numbers are set to double in the next five years.

"I think this is the start of the growth, not the end of it," says Mr Thomas.

It's not just Auckland benefiting either; Jetstar today rolled out new regional routes.

"It's a huge economic boom for the regions, and we're delighted to stimulate demand for those and to grow the numbers," says Jetstar CEO David Hall.

That's exactly why tourism is now our number one industry.