Hotels on the agenda for Key

Prime Minister John Key (Thomas Mead / Newshub.)
Prime Minister John Key (Thomas Mead / Newshub.)

John Key wants the number of Chinese tourists visiting New Zealand to triple over the next few years, to more than a million people a year.

And the Government is on a mission to entice foreign companies to build places for them to stay.

Auckland's new five star Hyatt Hotel, under construction, is bankrolled by one of China's richest women -- Chen Lihua of Fu Wah fame.

Foreign investment like that is seen as the saviour to New Zealand's tourism infrastructure crisis -- and it has a secret code-name: Project Palace.

It's a global mission by the Government's Trade and Enterprise agency to lure rich foreigners to invest in hotels.

"It's a win-win situation -- we get more beds and more beds mean more tourists who'll spend money," NZTE chief executive Peter Chrisp said.

Tourism has grown so quickly there aren't enough beds to accommodate visitors -- and the problem will get worse unless something is done.

Over the last year, around 356,000 Chinese tourists came to New Zealand -- that's a year on year increase of 25 percent, with one million Chinese tourists expected every year by 2021.

"You're going to see significant investment and boom in tourist infrastructure, it's a statement of fact," Prime Minister John Key said.

Tripling the number of Chinese tourists to New Zealand is an ambitious goal -- especially when the current infrastructure can't cope with current demand.

If John Key's prediction is correct, expect to see a sea of tower cranes over our cities building places for the influx to stay.