Resort has 'potential' for luxury-seekers

The Luxury New Zealand logo, which was unveiled at Trenz, in Queenstown, yesterday.
The Luxury New Zealand logo, which was unveiled at Trenz, in Queenstown, yesterday.
Wealthy Chinese tourists attracted to gambling, luxury shopping, discreet boutique hotels and exclusive activities in Queenstown want to be treated like royalty, media attending Trenz were told yesterday.

The "Luxury New Zealand" project was launched in May by Auckland International Airport, which controversially bought a 24.99% stake in Queenstown Airport last July.

The project's aim was to encourage rich Chinese outbound travellers to choose New Zealand for their luxury leisure trips in premium airline cabins.

Pierre Gervois
Pierre Gervois
The marketing campaign involved a website, social media and direct marketing, partnership with the exclusive Shanghai Travellers' Club and VIP events in China with Chinese "high net worth individuals".

China Elite chief executive Pierre Gervois painted a portrait of the average wealthy Chinese tourist, saying a typical high-end tourist had a shopping budget between $50,000 to $200,000, travelled first or business class to New Zealand, then in helicopters, limousines, or sports cars around the country.

The tourist would travel as part of a couple, or with a limited number of wealthy friends, would organise his own itinerary, carefully choose his activities and may consider investing in real estate.

The tourist was "seeking respect and consideration in accordance with his social status," Mr Gervois said.

"The new generation of wealthy Chinese travellers are searching for exclusivity and extreme luxury as a way of differentiating themselves from the middle-class Chinese outbound traveller," Mr Gervois told the Otago Daily Times, after the conference.

"I can see the potential in Queenstown. It has boutique hotels, hidden gems, and I'm sure Queenstown has a card to play with extreme luxury and discreet activities."

Mr Gervois told the conference the "old-fashioned" concept of group tours was being steadily rejected by urban, affluent and westernised Chinese travellers. Rich Chinese applied for the more easily obtainable business visa, instead of leisure visas, although business would be a small part of their travel plans.

Travelling abroad was the favourite leisure activity of rich Chinese, followed by collecting luxury cars and buying luxury watches, he said.

Gambling, recognised by the euphemism "entertainment", as well as top-brand shopping, wine tourism, golf, yachting, luxury weddings, hunting, horse races and polo were activities sought by wealthy Chinese, Mr Gervois said.

However, New Zealand was, so far, associated with outdoor pursuits, sports, purity, calm and family in China, which were already marketed to the Chinese middle-class.

Chasing the dragon
The statistics
• China has a population of 1.35 billion people.
• 55 million travelled internationally and spent $42 billion in travel services in 2010.
• 120,000 Chinese travelled to New Zealand in 2010.
• China has 960,000 millionaires with a personal wealth of 10 million yuan ($2 million) or more.
• It has 60,000 "super-rich" who have a personal wealth of 100 million yuan ($20 million) or more.
• 4000 Chinese have a personal wealth of one billion yuan ($200 million) or more.
Sources: Huran Research Centre, Shanghai, China Elite Focus and Auckland International Airport.

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