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A video posted to Tourism Waitaki marketing specialist Ace Liu’s personal TikTok account, of the organisation being taught about the Chinese New Year, received more than 1.6million views on the video-sharing social media app.
Due to its success, Mr Liu and Tourism Waitaki have now created a TikTok account to promote the Waitaki district specifically to the Chinese market.
He believed Tourism Waitaki was the first New Zealand regional tourism organisation on TikTok."Chinese people are very excited about how foreigners want to know things about what is happening in China, and about things happening here," Mr Liu said.
Another video was filmed in Waitaki at the weekend, showcasing various attractions, and his Chinese contacts were already asking to share it.
Other Asian social media platforms, such as WeChat and Weibo, were also being used and Mr Liu wrote an 18-page feature about attractions in Waitaki for CityWalker, a New Zealand Chinese magazine.
"More and more people in China each year want to travel abroad, so I see the potential of it. The Chinese market is getting larger and larger and people want to travel after Covid."
The feedback he received was "very positive" and he believed there would be a strong influx of Chinese tourists when the borders reopened.
Scenes of the recently released movie Mulan, filmed throughout the district, could be attractive to their demographic too, he said.
"It may be a future spot for the Chinese market."
Tourism Waitaki general manager Margaret Munro said using social media kept Waitaki exposed to future visitors.
"We uploaded lots of videos of the penguins and the Victorian parade — we’ve been quite busy. There’s still a lot of interest — [Chinese tourists] love the wildlife, the penguin colony is a really good attraction here," Mrs Munro said.
Before Covid-19, Tourism Waitaki staff used to visit China to promote the district, but now all marketing had moved into a digital space and it appeared to work well.
Tourism Waitaki’s The One Who campaign was also rolled out recently, and it had been well received, she said. She encouraged more businesses to come join.