Queenstown's tourism operators, marketing body and chamber
of commerce are riding the crest of a national wave to
capitalise on China, the resort and the country's
fastest-growing visitor market. James Beech finds out how
Queenstown is becoming Chinatown.
Two Chinese couples in the same
week chose Queenstown and one of its signature attractions to
pop the question.
Following the wedding of Yao Chen, the actress, Tourism New
Zealand's brand ambassador in China and queen of Chinese
microblogging site Weibo, in St Peter's Church last November,
Queenstown is proving to be a popular destination for young
couples to both propose and marry, NZONE Skydive business
development manager Derek Melnick said.
''We're definitely seeing a dramatic surge in young,
independent travellers from China,'' Mr Melnick said.
''Last winter China was not even in our top five biggest
markets and now they're in the top three ...
''The new wave of Chinese tourists are coming from
second-tier cities, indicating the effectiveness of New
Zealand's marketing penetration.
Skydiving, like other activities uncommon in China, was
aspirational to Chinese people, Mr Melnick said.
NZONE Skydive staff are trained in Chinese pleasantries.
NZONE was the first adventure company in New Zealand to
accept China UnionPay, China's credit card of choice, in
October 2012, and has more than 1500 followers on Weibo in 12
''We predict a bumper Chinese New Year for Queenstown from
January 31, based on the success of the current National Day
of China holiday,'' he said.
Those couples were part of the influx of Chinese people
choosing Queenstown and New Zealand as the place to spend
their ''Golden Week''. The first week of October is
celebrated each year to mark the National Day of the People's
Republic of China on October 1 and is a public holiday period
equal to Chinese New Year.
China is New Zealand's second-largest visitor market after
Australia and the fastest growing, up 27% to 229,184 in the
year to August.
It is the second most lucrative visitor market and Chinese
travellers spent $645 million last year, up 24%, the Tourism
Industry Association says.
Destination Queenstown is now developing a China-specific
strategy, to outline where resources and attention should be
focused to get the best from Chinese market growth.
Chief executive Graham Budd said the concise document would
be available in a month.
''The Chinese visitor now is not a visitor to be scared of.
They're a visitor who wants to participate in our culture and
our experiences we have to offer and we need to make them
feel welcome and acknowledge their cultural difference.''
International markets manager Ben Chapman and trade marketing
executive Christiana Zhu for DQ, Mr Melnick for NZONE and
dozens of other Wakatipu and national operators, are taking
promotion of Queenstown's attractions
To China, heading off from October 19 to November 8. They
will attend Kiwi Link Greater China in the eastern city of
Wuxi, then join a Frontline Roadshow to update travel trade
representatives in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong
Kong, similar to a Tourism NZ-led expedition Queenstown
operators joined a year ago.
''We hope to inform and motivate more travel trade in China
to select Queenstown and Southern Lakes as a region to send
their clients,'' he said,''It's very much development of
market through training and informing. The appointment book
for DQ is full.
''We can expect there to be an event of this type each year
now as the Chinese market grows and we might see more than
one visit a year, given the ... growth and importance of this
Mr Budd said Chinese visitors participated in all types of
activities Queenstown offers. Chinese visitors still
travelled in tour groups, but the mix was broadening. Some
younger free and independent travellers, and family groups,
were seen now.
Mr Budd encouraged more Queenstown operators to accept China
UnionPay. He welcomed a new partnership announced last week
between the Tourism Industry Association and Smartpay, which
let each association member receive one free Smartpay
terminal dedicated to UnionPay for six months.
Accepting UnionPay is ''essential really, if you want any
decent business out of a Chinese visitor'', Mr Budd said.
''It's their preferred method of payment.''
Other ways to cater for greater numbers of Chinese tourists
was a topic for discussion at the ''China Ready'' workshop
attended by more than 100 Wakatipu operators in Crowne Plaza
Queenstown on September 23.
The touring workshop was organised by the Christchurch
Airport initiative ''South'' and supported by regional
tourism organisations. DQ and Mr Budd, as South chairman,
took the lead.
''South has recently employed a full-time business
development manager in Shanghai to deal with the travel
trade, so that's a complement to our own trade efforts,'' he
''We've got a multi-pronged approach to training, informing
and motivating the Chinese market.''
Sister city bid
The Queenstown Chamber of Commerce is looking into building a
sister city relationship with Hangzhou, voted ''the happiest
city in China'', to usher business opportunities and make the
most of the link between Dunedin and Shanghai.
The city of 2.4 million, an hour by train from Shanghai,
shares Queenstown's industry of tourism, as well as creative,
education and financial service industries and a mature wine
retailing market, the chamber said.
Auckland has 20 sister city relationships, but 92% of its
commercial return comes from its sister city relationship in
Tourism New Zealand and China Southern Airlines inked a deal
last month to jointly promote New Zealand tourism in China.
The new memorandum of understanding signed in Guangzhou,
China, covers brand advertising and promotional campaigns,
tactical promotional campaigns, public relations, major trade
shows, special events, distribution development and other
mutually agreed activities, until 2016.
The marketing organisation and airline intend to implement
fully integrated campaigns across multiple channels
encompassing consumer, trade, media and online, where
possible. The organisations are making equal financial
commitments to the multimillion-dollar agreement.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment opened
applications last week for the China Market Information
Programme, an initiative given $1.6 million over two years to
co-fund business research projects on the needs and
preferences of Chinese visitors.
The aim of the programme is to assist tourism businesses to
better target and develop products and services for the China
visitor market. The Government will match private-sector
investment dollar for dollar.
Tourism policy manager Robyn Henderson said: ''One of the key
themes to emerge from the China Market Review - released
earlier this year by Prime Minister John Key - is the need to
ramp up the ability of our visitor sector to adapt to and
gain higher returns from the China visitor market.''
Be mine ... Huang Jun, of Xiamen in the Fujian Province,
proposed to his girlfriend, Fang Ye, after touching down from
an NZONE 15,000ft tandem skydive over Queenstown, courtesy of
tandem instructors Will Da Silva and Krasimir Bankov. It was
the first visit to New Zealand for both Huang and Fang and
the trip was planned around the surprise proposal Huang
dreamed up at home in China. PHOTO: BRIAN FARNAN Familiar
sight ... Queenstown has been at the forefront of campaigns
to entice China's millions of holidaymakers to this country
since this Tourism New Zealand and Auckland International
Airport campaign in 2011. The visitor market is maturing with
Chinese visitors to the resort rapidly increasing
year-on-year. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED