New Zealand highly values the Chinese tourism markets

New Zealand highly values the Chinese tourism markets which are expecting to become New Zealand’s second largest market by visitor arrivals in 2014 and by expenditure in 2013, overtaking Britain and the United States, a tourism agency chief said here Wednesday.

Kevin Bowler, chief executive of Tourism New Zealand, the government tourism agency, said in an interview with Xinhua that his country will give priority to the tourism markets in Australia, China, the United States, and China will be the only Asian country.

In New Zealand’s top five international visitor arrivals markets, namely Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, China and Japan, only the Chinese market boasts an annual increase of more than 20 percent, he said.

New Zealand’s annual travel expo, Tourism Rendezvous New Zealand, is being held in South Island tourist resort of Queenstown on May 7-10, attracting more than 1,000 participants, including 308 international travel buyers and 270 New Zealand exhibitors.

Tourism New Zealand figures show that in the past 12 months ending March 2012, there are 160,268 visitor arrivals from China, a 23.7-percent increase year on year. Chinese visitor expenditure total 457 million NZ dollars (about 366 million U.S. dollars), an increase of 25.8 percent.

However, Bowler said the total number of days of stay, linked to spend, had been flat since 2008. The challenge was to encourage more “New Zealand destination only” tourists from new markets such as China, as a preference to “dual” tourists, or those who tagged on a New Zealand visit after Australia.

“We will not focus too much on international visitor arrivals, we will woo the tourists to stay longer in New Zealand to taste the ‘100 percent pure'”, Bowler said.

“At the moment, about three quarters of Chinese visitors are coming through Australia and seeing both countries in one journey, ” Bowler said. “The fundamental problem is that three nights in New Zealand is not really enough to see the best of it.”

An increase in direct flights between New Zealand and Asian nations, including the China Southern Airlines service between Auckland and Guangzhou, which began in April last year, was helpful for raising the number of tourists coming exclusively to New Zealand.

“But we’re also trying to produce good quality group holidays because a lot of the travel sold in China is subsidized by planned shopping,” he said.

“Shopping tours are an unavoidable part of the Chinese travel industry, but we’re seeing an increase in people wanting a quality travel experience.”

Bowler said the Chinese market is gradually turning from the shopping tour groups to the Free Independent Travel (FIT) tourists.

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