9 Oct 2014

Tonga travel advisory downgrade welcomed

2:38 pm on 9 October 2014

Tonga's Minister of Tourism says the downgrading of New Zealand's travel warnings for Tonga is very good news for the economy.

The warning was issued by Wellington last year when Tonga began using a new MA60 plane gifted by China for domestic flights.

Viliami Latu says he met the High Commission yesterday and learnt New Zealand concerns over the MA60 aircraft are now being worked through with aviation authorities and both governments.

He says visitor numbers from New Zealand had dropped over the past year because of the old warning, so Tonga now hopes for a boost to tourism.

"Everyone is excited especially from the airlines company, the private sector, all the tourist operators, they are now excited and now happy. And I think it will give them an energy and encouragement to work hard because they know for sure that the biggest obstacle is now removed."

Dr Latu says the advisory downgrade means partnership funding between the two countries can begin to be released and Tonga can boost its marketing to New Zealand travellers.