Chinese visitors keep resort busy

Queenstown businesses reported an increase in the number of Chinese visitors last week and early this week, as the resort experienced a "record Chinese New Year".

The week-long celebration, equivalent to Western Christmas and New Year festivities and the most significant travel week for the Chinese and Asian market, started last Monday.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Tony Everitt was impressed to see so many Chinese visitors in town and said a broad base of DQ member businesses had reported "significantly increased Chinese business".

"It's pretty pleasing to see places like the holiday parks and adventure activities also benefited," Mr Everitt said.

"It shows that not only are we getting the package tourists, but independent Chinese travellers, who are prepared to try something a bit more adventurous."

Visitor centre manager Matt Wong, who, like many businesses, decorated his office windows with DQ's "Happy Chinese New Year" signs, said the response was overwhelming.

"Even having those signs up was enough to attract visitors into the store and sitting on the desk with all these people asking me if I speak Chinese was quite funny."

He and another staff member have since signed up for lessons.

He said walking the streets of Queenstown last week was reminiscent of the days of the Japanese tourist boom, albeit with visitors from China and other Asian countries.

"One thing I noticed was a lot of people coming from Auckland and Australia, and in particular, young people living abroad, who bought their families over here from China on holiday."

Skyline also reported a large number of Chinese visitors during the week, and general manager Lindon Thomas said almost all of last week's dinner services were packed.

"Last week was just really busy with Chinese and Japanese guests, and I think each night was sold out for dinner," Mr Thomas said.

"With two sittings and 250 people in each sitting, these are some decent numbers."

Bonz Gallery and Bonz Group New Zealand managing director Bonnie Rodwell said the numbers experienced were similar to last year, but remained high after Chinese New Year.

Ms Rodwell thought the key to growing the new year market was to focus on keeping the visitors here for longer, and said the store was definitely better prepared for their arrival this year.

"It was much easier this year .. they thought it was very funny us trying to speak Mandarin, but we were trying ..."

When asked if there was any possibility of festivities next year, Mr Everitt said Queenstown would be better to focus on attracting visitors over the holiday with the resort's beauty and amenities.

" I think we did up the ante this year .. and we need to continue that and make people feel welcome, but at the same time people come here to see Queenstown, not the extravagant dragon dancers they can see at home."


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