Award for film 'icing on the cake'

A 21-minute film showcasing Queenstown's skifields, back-country skiing and skydiving has won Best Picture in the Outdoor Film Festival in China - with the exposure the beginning of a "10-year project" to increase visitors to Queenstown during winter.

Film-maker Mark Chen, of China's CCTV5, shot the film in the resort in September, which was broadcast on CCTV5 on November 25 and attracted more than 10 million viewers.

Air New Zealand in Shanghai was also running the clip on its "Weibo" site - the Chinese equivalent of Twitter - which had 34,000 followers "predisposed to be interested in New Zealand".

Mr Chen was brought to the resort on a joint familiarisation, hosted by Air New Zealand, North Face and Destination Queenstown during the 2011 Winter Games NZ.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Tony Everitt said it was fantastic news for the resort and the exposure could not have come at a better time.

"I spent last week in Auckland visiting Chinese travel agents that bring tour groups into New Zealand from China.

"It looks like during the Chinese New Year, which is the last week in January, we'll see more Chinese people in Queenstown than we've ever seen before."

While the film was targeting the Chinese winter sport market, Mr Everitt said it might take a little while for numbers to increase substantially.

"We understand that the Chinese ski population is now four million ... We wouldn't expect hordes... next winter, but we understand they [the Chinese] have made it as far as Japan. Last winter, the Japanese skifields were almost rescued by China, a bit like the Australians did for New Zealand.

"If they've started to go that far, they will progressively go further.

"I think it's a 10-year project... [but] for the short movie to take the gong in this Outdoor Film Festival is just the icing on the cake."


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