Queenstown tourism operators are ready to embrace Chinese New
Year holiday-makers by decorating shop windows, training
staff in Mandarin and accepting China's only domestic bank
Chinese visitors to NZONE Skydive Queenstown, Ziptrek
Ecotours, i-Site Visitor Centre Queenstown and other Wakatipu
operators are likely to be greeted by staff with ''Shin
nee-an quai la'', which translates as ''Happy New Year'' or
''Gong chi fa chai'', which means ''Congratulations on
getting more wealth'', in the advent of the Year of the Snake
from February 10.
The phrases signal the enthusiastic interest more tourist
operators are taking in China, given the dramatic growth from
its visitor market last year, which overtook the United
States and United Kingdom to become New Zealand's
second-largest source of visitors after Australia.
NZONE Skydive business development manager Derek Melnick said
he and his team had learned simple greetings in Mandarin and
Cantonese and while most travelling Chinese had some grasp of
English, they appreciated the effort made in their own
The NZONE shop was festooned with lanterns and gift envelopes
representing prosperity for the new year. Large Chinese
script wishing a happy new year to customers was posted on
the wall and clearly visible outside as people walked along
The Chinese bank card UnionPay was added as a payment
facility before Christmas and NZONE planned to join Tourism
New Zealand for a follow-up trade visit to China at the end
We know there's a huge influx of Chinese FITs (free and
independent travellers) coming in this time of year,'' Mr
We know the region's been heavily promoted as a destination
for this time of year. The airline connectivity has given
every indication there's considerable interest.''
Ziptrek Ecotours marketing and sales manager Nicky Busst said
team members were also coached in Mandarin and Cantonese
pleasantries and culture. The company's brochures had been
translated, decorations were in the window, UnionPay was
accepted and Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, was being
Ziptrek will launch a promotion on February 8 especially for
Chinese holiday-makers, offering them a 15% discount on its
zipline experiences when they say ''Happy New Year'' in their
native tongue to staff in the Camp St outlet.''
We're seeing year-on-year increases in Chinese visitors and
it's great to see Queenstown get behind the growing Chinese
market,'' Mrs Busst said.
Across Shotover St, i-Site Visitor Centre general manager
Matt Wong said Chinese New Year preparations were left to the
last minute in 2012, but the marked increase in sales from
Chinese visitors who walked in after spotting signs greeting
them in their own language convinced i-Site to take the
Mr Wong said it was not just travellers direct from China who
were choosing Queenstown for their holidays. Many Chinese
students in Auckland and Australia were arranging to meet
their families in the resort for a shared break and often
i-Site staff were recommending activities for parties of up
to six Chinese, with the student as tour leader.
Air sports associated with New Zealand, including skydiving,
paragliding and bungy jumping, were especially popular among
the new wave of Chinese FITs, more so than softer pursuits,
such as golf, which they could play at home.
With an average of 600 people through the doors on peak days,
Mr Wong said Chinese visitors were now the second-most common
nationality making inquiries at i-Site after Australians.
Britons were third, Europeans fourth and Americans fifth.
Chinese visitors ranked fifth last summer, he said.''
I'd love to see Queenstown celebrate in terms of a Chinese
festival like Auckland, though they have a large Chinese
We celebrate Gay Ski Week, Winter Festival and our own New
Year. Having an event to give them a reason to come over for
a week would be amazing.''
Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said there
had been a significant change in the market mix in the last
year. Arrivals from Asia, and China in particular, continued
to increase, while long-haul markets have remained
Total arrivals for the year ending December 2012 reaffirmed
the underlying growth in visitors. Arrivals were only
slightly down on 2011, which was boosted by Rugby World Cup,
and up 1.6% on 2010.
Mr Bowler said the economic situation in Europe, and New
Zealand's high exchange rate, impacted on the number of
However, the Western markets remain valuable, and a target
for Tourism New Zealand, as their visitors tend to stay
longer. And some of the markets have held up well - in
particular Germany which was up 12.4% in December, and ended
the full year 0.1% ahead of 2011.''
Mr Bowler said Tourism NZ anticipated the growing awareness
of New Zealand as the result of the release of the first
Hobbit movie and its focused marketing efforts, will increase
preference for travel to New Zealand across all markets,
including long-haul markets such as the US and the
economically stronger countries of Europe.