Huge visitor potential

Graham Budd.
Graham Budd.
Queenstown has the beauty and serenity craved by Chinese tourists, but the challenge is to tell those millions of travellers that what they can do in the Wakatipu they cannot do anywhere else.

This was one of the observations made by Destination Queenstown after a Tourism New Zealand-led fact-finding mission to the country's second-most important tourism market involving counterparts from other regional tourism organisations, including Dunedin and Christchurch.

Mr Budd returned to the resort last weekend after a week in Hangzhou and Shanghai, huge and accessible modern conurbations about two hours apart.

Mr Budd said his experiences reinforced the impression China had huge middle-class consumer wealth which included the massive potential for outbound travel.

"We learnt a lot about the numbers of Chinese travelling internationally and how it continues to grow rapidly," he said on Monday.

"There's no questions we can attract high-value visitors to New Zealand and to Queenstown that go beyond what is currently perceived to be a relatively low-value visitor, particularly those who are adding New Zealand on to a trip to Australia and therefore only spending three days in Auckland and Rotorua.

"There's a lot of potential to get high-value visitors coming to New Zealand as their sole destination and certainly coming to the South Island and to Queenstown.

"These are not people who are going to be travelling cheaply or do not want to experience the full range of things we have on offer here, so I am greatly encouraged by that potential."

Mr Budd said Queenstown already had a reputation in China's tourism industry of being a beautiful place to visit.

Some representatives had first-hand experience of the resort.

"Our role now is to keep reinforcing that and get deeper, more specific information about activities," Mr Budd said.

"Certainly adventure activities are interesting to the Chinese, maybe not all of the extreme stuff, but that will come as well. Young people will want to include those things.

"Also higher-value areas such as golf, weddings and honeymoons, walking and wine.

"They are all opportunities."

With the lower-end visitor on coach tours coming to the Southern Lakes anyway, Destination Queenstown was free to develop a marketing strategy during the next few months to appeal to high-value Chinese, most likely within the three or four regions of the republic with easier outbound air access.

Influencing the high-end market would occur through the type of media DQ used and the people it hosted at events.

The beauty of the Wakatipu was an excellent point of difference when marketing to China, Mr Budd said.

"Just now, [we are] starting to build those next layers of information about the experiences, beyond the landscape, they would have when they come to Queenstown.

"That's the same job we do for all of our markets that we target. The fact is the Chinese market is at a relatively low level of development, so it's back to some basics."