The South Island's economy will be boosted by an extra $100 million of visitor spending with a new year-round service to Christchurch from Asia's largest airline.
Christchurch Airport announced on Friday that China Southern Airlines will fly directly between Guangzhou, in the south of China, and Christchurch from December this year.
President and chief executive of China Southern, Tan Wan Geng, said the airline was proud to offer another first for New Zealand.
"We are the first Chinese carrier to fly to New Zealand and now carry on that tradition by being the first to fly to the South Island."
Increasing numbers of Chinese visitors were coming to the South Island especially a growing number of independent travellers.
Christchurch Airport chief executive Malcolm Johns said it was significant for the South Island because the service offered more than 70,000 seats a year and an estimated more than $100m visitor spend for the South Island economy.
"That is positive news not only for the tourism industry but also for southern air freight needs which added up to significant economic development opportunities for every region of the South Island."
Johns said Government statistics showed that when visitors entered the South Island through Christchurch every region benefited rather than if the entry point was not Christchurch.
The joint efforts and partnership between the airport and the South Island tourism industry had made a powerful impression on China Southern.
Johns said mayors were extremely important in China and he said the industry was very grateful for Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel's support and her hosting of the Mayor of Guangzhou and vice versa.