TNZ focus on visitors from China

Kevin Bowler.
Kevin Bowler.
Enticing Chinese visitors to stay longer and spend more in New Zealand will be a key focus of Tourism New Zealand's next three-year marketing strategy.

About 50 Dunedin tourism professionals attended a Tourism New Zealand presentation in the city, led by TNZ chief executive Kevin Bowler, this week.

He explained the organisation's priorities for the next three years, aimed at increasing the value of visitors to New Zealand.

Mr Bowler said Chinese visitor numbers had increased 39.2% in the 12 months to the end of October, but about 80% of Chinese tourists only went to Auckland and Rotorua on the back of an Australian trip.

In that sense, TNZ was ''doing it all wrong'' and needed to persuade Chinese visitors to make New Zealand their sole destination, so they travelled more extensively throughout the country and for longer, he said.

Without the increase in Chinese visitors, overall tourist numbers to New Zealand were down.

Of TNZ's six main markets, the United Kingdom had been the biggest upset with a 16.9% decrease in visitors to New Zealand.

In general, visitors were also spending less, largely as a result of the high New Zealand dollar.

In the past five years, New Zealand had become about 30% more expensive for tourists, Mr Bowler said.

Annual visitor spending had dropped almost $1 billion from a peak of $6.102 billion in 2009.

In the 12 months to September, visitors spent $5.493 billion (excluding air fares).

Mr Bowler said TNZ was building on the outstanding exposure New Zealand received when Chinese actress Yao Chen, a TNZ brand ambassador, married and honeymooned in Queenstown recently.

She had 26 million ''followers'' on social media websites. There was great opportunity to market New Zealand as a honeymoon destination for the growing number of young, affluent Chinese, he said.

He saw India and Indonesia as the next big markets and encouraged industry professionals to target the ''emerging east''.

The UK market was likely to continue slipping, Germany remained New Zealand's strongest European market and United States visitors would be the most attracted by Hobbit-associated tourism, Mr Bowler said. Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said the information was invaluable for regional tourism operators, to develop their own marketing strategies.

Another TNZ marketing session will be held in Queenstown at the Millennium Hotel from 1pm tomorrow.


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