Business

New Zealand Direct Flights To Houston Could Strengthen Trade And Tourism Ties

The United States ambassador to New Zealand visited the Port of Houston to talk about how these flights could lead to increased trade.

Port of Houston Chief General Counsel Erik Eriksson, U.S. Ambassador Mark Gilbert, FTZ and Economic Development Manager Shane Williams
Port of Houston Chief General Counsel Erik Eriksson, U.S. Ambassador Mark Gilbert, FTZ and Economic Development Manager Shane Williams

Air New Zealand began direct flights to Houston this week. One of the first passengers was Mark Gilbert, the United States ambassador to New Zealand. 

Ambassador Mark Gilbert says this new five-day-a-week direct service greatly reduces that notoriously long flight.

“Absolutely! Twelve hours and 40 minutes all the way into Houston, so I think it’s gonna be a great opportunity for both trade and tourism.”

And in fact, tourism can lead to increased trade.

“Business happens when people develop relationships. And what happens is that when they make the visits; they think about what are the business opportunities. On the flip side, we meet on a regular basis with Kiwi businesses that are looking for the opportunity to grow their business — take ’em globally — and when they think a bout going global, they always think about the U.S.”  

Officials at the Port of Houston and the ambassador say the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership would further boost imports and exports through Houston by reducing or eliminating tariffs.

“And when you look for an exporting state like Texas, what it will mean with tariffs going away, the easier flow of trade, it’s only going to be positive for the economy.”  

Trade aside, Ambassador Gilbert says there’s great excitement about the tourism aspect of Air New Zealand’s 7,400-mile non-stop flights to Houston.

“Well, I call it the Houston to Hobbiton route! You know, it’s interesting — more than a quarter of a million Americans traveled to New Zealand last year, and a quarter of them came because they saw the Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit movies. But New Zealand’s just a breathtakingly beautiful country, which I think Americans would really enjoy seeing.” 

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