Air NZ hosts Kiwi BBQ in Ho Chi Minh City

Air NZ hosts Kiwi BBQ in Ho Chi Minh City

Air New Zealand is predicting a big boost in the number of Kiwi tourists travelling to Vietnam.

The airline has launched its latest international destination to Ho Chi Minh City, and celebrated it in typical Kiwi style.

There was nothing but the best Kiwi lamb cooked on the BBQ in one of the food capitals of the world.

Vietnam is one the fastest-growing tourist markets in the world.

"We have seen pockets of opportunities, and this is a really attractive opportunity for Kiwis to venture out and see a new destination," says Air NZ sales and commercial officer Cam Wallace.

Around 16,000 Kiwis travelled to Vietnam in the past 12 months -- up 20 percent on last year.

Now, for the first time, Kiwis can now fly non-stop to Ho Chi Minh City, taking just 11 hours.

"To get on a plane, go to sleep and wake up on the other side of the world to a country like that is fantastic," says tourist Eva Bradley.

Vietnam is fast becoming the next go-to spot for New Zealand holidaymakers, especially for those looking for adventure. There is history, culture, one of the world's finest cuisines and cheap shopping.

"The ability to fly direct between Auckland and Ho Chi Minh City -- two movies and a sleep -- it is not very long and gets people from one country to the other," says Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

The new air link is also expected to bolster business and education links between the two countries.

"We are building brand awareness here for New Zealand," says New Zealand ambassador to Vietnam Haike Manning. "There is a massive demographic here, which is working in our favour, lots of young people -- very aspirational -- so I think the future is bright for the relationship."

Vietnam is in hot demand. To give you an idea, last year more than 9 million international visitors arrived there, with Air NZ flying in three times a week. It is literally dipping its small toe in this giant market.