By Brierley Penn
In 2012, China became the largest outbound market of any in the world, growing 40% relative to the 2011 period. In the last 12 months, China has become the second most important travel market for New Zealand, said Kevin Bowler, CEO of Tourism NZ, with Chinese visitors to NZ spending $645m each year.
However, Bowler says that New Zealand still does need a wake-up call in considering our strategy to attract Chinese tourists. “We have been talking about volume, not value,” he said. “We need a focus not just on visitor arrival numbers, but on the quality of the experience and the price yield of those visitors.” Currently, the mean length of stay for a Chinese visitor to New Zealand is just four days, a statistic which reflects the reality that New Zealand is often just a further destination tacked onto the end of an Australian holiday. “We need to focus on interventions around mono-New Zealand travel.”
To improve the quality of the Chinese visitor experience, Bowler said that we need to address not just language, but also other facets of Chinese culture. Dietary options is a big part of this, for instance the necessity for big hotels to provide breakfast choices which reflect Chinese dietary preferences. Understanding the Chinese culture, and how New Zealand can best cater to the values of this market, will allow us to tap into further potential in Chinese tourism.