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Riding a rapidly growing wave of Chinese tourism, New Zealand industry operators are moving to capitalise and develop their own growth opportunities as this inbound market looks set to only increase in the future.
Figures from Auckland Airport’s Ambition 2020 initiative show indicative Chinese visitor numbers developing from 160,000 per year today to more than 430,000 arrivals by 2020, underpinned by significant work in market to develop high-value longer stay visitors and free independent travellers (FIT)/semi FIT visitors.
On-going campaigns with prominent travel wholesalers in China, interest and local investment from principal airline China Southern and a forecasted outbound traveller increase from 70 million to 80 million in 2012 are just some of the factors behind the rapid and continuing local growth.
Despite this rise, international customer service and tourism development specialist, Trevor Lee of TravConsult cautions New Zealand tourism operators to be prepared to put in the work to attract discerning Chinese tourists.
“There is no fast-track approach or shortcut to winning the hearts and minds of Chinese consumers and potential travellers. They are fortunate to have the world at their feet via the internet, social media and the recommendations of e-WOM (electronic word of mouth). China is a marathon, not a sprint,” he says.
To help tourism businesses in New Zealand to better understand and attract premium travellers from Asia as part of Ambition 2020, Auckland Airport has hosted a series of ‘LETS GET READY’ China workshops with TravConsult, drawing strong attendance from a wide selection of the tourism industry.
TravConsult’s Lilly Choi-Lee says with the Chinese traveller and market evolving at such a rapid rate, complacency and over-confidence is a losing formula.
“Tourism professionals who attended the three-day series of Auckland Airport workshops now have a toolkit and clear insight into effective strategies to compete in the global market for the Chinese outbound market.”
Following their success, the workshops have expanded to include sessions providing market intelligence and customer insight into the Indian, Korean and Indonesian markets.
“The workshops have been invaluable and delegates will have a definite advantage over competitors as a result of attending,” said Les Morgan, Director of Operations, Sudima Hotels New Zealand and Australia.
And Ann Gregor from Volcanic Air Safaris said, “The workshops went a long way to assist in building the entire picture of the Chinese culture. Certainly from our company’s perspective it has provided me with a lot of ideas on how we can better serve the Chinese business/visitor.”
Commenting on the market’s rapid development, Glenn Wedlock, Auckland Airport’s General Manager Aeronautical Commercial, says the local tourism industry Is starting to capture new markets from China and it is important we keep developing the NZ Inc. potential.
“The Chinese economy has spent the past ten years growing at a phenomenal rate – and as a result the market here is moving that way too. It has been fantastic to see such a strong appetite for developing and expanding skills within the New Zealand tourism industry, and Auckland Airport is committed to aiming higher, doing more to capture this growth and target the highest value tourists for both our industry and our economy overall.”
The workshops were held in Auckland, Rotorua and, this week, Queenstown, and attended by over 100 representatives of New Zealand’s tourism sector.