2013: Kevin Bowler “Chinese visitors $645m each year”

By Brierley Penn

In 2012, China became the largest outbound market of any in the world, growing 40 per cent relative to the 2011 period. In the next 12 months, China had 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 said that New Zealand still needed a wake-up call in considering our strategy to attract Chinese tourists. “We have been talking about volume, not value,” he said at the 2013 Summit. “We need a focus not just on visitor arrival numbers, but on the quality of the experience and the price yield of those visitors.” The mean length of stay for a Chinese visitor to New Zealand at the time of the summit was just four days, a statistic which he said reflected the reality that New Zealand was 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 needed 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 could best cater to the values of this market would allow us to tap into further potential in Chinese tourism.

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