Preperations for an increase in lucrative visitors
celebrating Chinese New Year last month paid off even more than
expected for many Queenstown tourism operators.
The Queenstown Times returned last week to the
operators it spoke to in early February, just before the Year
of the Snake was ushered in.
Many Wakatipu operators embraced New Zealand's newly emerged
second-largest tourism market and its biggest calendar
holiday by training staff in Chinese pleasantries, accepting
China's only domestic bank card and decorating shop windows
with lanterns and script.
''We knew it was going to be a substantial increase on last
year's, but expectations were surpassed,'' NZONE Skydive
business development manager Derek Melnick said.
''We saw more than double the Chinese numbers [on the 2012
New Year period] and I'm very pleased with the result.''
Mr Melnick said there was a wide diversity of free and
independent travellers, families and special-interest groups
of all ages among the Chinese visitors to NZONE, including a
Shanghai family of four in matching white tracksuits, and an
entire scuba diving team.i-Site Visitor Centre general
manager Matt Wong said there had been a ''fantastic'' and
''best year ever'' result from staff embracing Chinese New
Year. More than 50% of customers through the door during the
period were either from mainland China or were Chinese
ex-pats or students based in other countries.
Mr Wong said the influx lasted for a further two weeks after
the initial New Year week and ''our month would have been a
lot worse without it''.
Chinese visitors were especially keen to book airborne
activities and all ages were interested in the
adrenaline-fuelled adventures on offer, contrary to common
tourism industry expectations, he said.
Counter sales were bolstered with the hiring of a dedicated
Chinese consultant, for whom Chinese visitors would wait
until free, then discuss options in their native language.
Sales increased as a consequence, he said.
Mr Melnick and Mr Wong individually said they hoped the
evolution of Queenstown as a Chinese New Year holiday
destination would continue, with the support of more
operators, Destination Queenstown and the Queenstown Lakes
District Council's event managers, for the whole resort to
Ziptrek Ecotours marketing and sales manager Nicky Busst said
the operation enjoyed ''significant growth'' directly
associated with Chinese New Year and was pleased to see the
''Just today we had a full tour of 10 Chinese on Ziptrek,
which is clearly a flow-on effect with all the marketing
activity that took place and the growing popularity of
Queenstown and New Zealand as a Chinese holiday
Destination Queenstown international markets manager Ben
Chapman said that, anecdotally, it seemed the resort
experienced growth on the previous Chinese New Year, with
more independent Chinese travellers coming not just during
the New Year period but through all of February.
''We're delighted that more local businesses got in behind it
and found ways to make our Chinese visitors feel welcome,''
Mr Chapman said.
''Feedback from some of our members indicates that they have
been embracing a wide range of activities, shopping at a
diverse selection of stores and eating in many of our
''It all bodes well for future visitation from this market.''
The increase in visitors from the Far East was felt over the
Crown Range as well, with Skydive Lake Wanaka achieving one
of its best February figures.
Jumpers from China outnumbered all other nationalities for
the first time in a single month.
Director Jools Hall said the profile of customers over the
Chinese New Year holiday period fitted the independent
traveller model rather than the stereotypical view of guided
coach tours, with many Chinese visitors touring New Zealand
in small groups driving hire cars and campervans.
''All the predictions about the Chinese market came true for
us in February,'' Ms Hall said.
''Even though we've put a lot of work into marketing to Asia,
I was amazed to see we'd had more jumpers from China than the
''We need to watch how the trend continues but, clearly, this
marks a significant shift for our business in a key trading