Rice nice, tourism boss says

New Zealand holiday parks are being advised to add a rice-cooker to their kitchens in readiness for Chinese tourists in camper vans.

And at least one Otago holiday park owner says he will be considering that advice.

Holiday Parks Association chief executive Fergus Brown outlined to the Otago Daily Times the association's push towards attracting more middle-class Chinese tourists to the camper van market.

Efforts included sending a group of Chinese travel agents to Fiordland in camper vans on an "educational" trip from Queenstown recently, and promoting camper van holidays through tourism industry bodies.

"There's a hell of a lot of education to be done ... getting the agents interested and then taking it through to the next step of getting [Chinese tourists] to actually do it."

Mr Brown said some Chinese tourists were already hiring camper vans and the association's park owners were already buying rice-cookers "because there's a high demand for those" from all Asian tourists.

"Unlike you and me, the Chinese only ever cook their rice in rice-cookers.

"They don't use a pot.

Mr Brown said holiday parks would do whatever it took to look after Chinese tourists.

"Because it's a new market; it's a growing market."

Mr Brown believed many Chinese were aware of what New Zealand had to offer and a lot of the bookings holiday parks were getting were coming direct via the internet.

He said the association had a lot more work to do marketing New Zealand in China but "we also have to do a hell of a lot of work with our own people to make sure we are China-ready."

Wanaka's Aspiring Campervan Park owner Richard Hutchison said he did not yet have a rice-cooker but he was "looking at that kind of thing".

His park had a long history of catering to the requirements of Japanese tourists but at present had "pretty much zero" tourists from China.

He said statistics showed most Chinese came to New Zealand for just three days as part of a holiday to Australia and he was not expecting an influx of Chinese in camper vans in the short term.



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