Too few New Zealand tourism operators are tapping into the nearly 40 million Chinese who travel every year, says Tourism New Zealand.
Tourism New Zealand’s regional manager for North Asia, Mark Frood, said many New Zealand tourism operators were waiting to see where the China market was headed.
“But we can’t afford to wait,” he said in the latest issue of Tourism New Zealand’s magazine, Tourism News.
“It is moving fast and if New Zealand is not in there, if we don’t have a good, solid presence to help the Chinese understand what we are about as a destination, our ability to attract this market will become much more difficult,” he said.
Tourism New Zealand said New Zealand attracted only 0.6 percent (122,000) of the 39.8 million Chinese who travelled every year. They stayed in New Zealand an average three days, spent a total of $337 million with an average spend of $3240, and most were satisfied with their New Zealand holidays.
The magazine said China was ready and waiting to travel and the disposable income in China was increasing in tandem with China’s awareness of the world.
Awareness would be intensified when six million visitors were expected for the Olympics in Beijing later this year.
China was New Zealand’s fourth largest source of international visitors and by 2013 the numbers visiting New Zealand were expected to double to 260,000.
It said Chinese visitors had been “tainted” by short-length stays combined with a reputation for taking group tours which were low-price, low-quality and shopping focused.
However, research had also shown that while they were still price conscious, there was a growing group interested in the experience of visiting New Zealand.
Tourism New Zealand said this year would be the first time it had directly targeted consumers in China.
It said research had shown that Chinese people had a very low awareness of New Zealand and saw it as a rural country near Australia and was often associated with farms, sheep and vast green pastures.
They also saw New Zealand as a restful place where they could relax, and escape the stress and workload they faced in the own large, noisy and polluted cities.
However, when they visited New Zealand they found it invigorating, and tried things they would never have done at home.
The magazine said Chinese visitors were not as extreme as western visitors. Hiking, rafting and skiing were challenging enough but parapenting and bungy jumping were seen as extreme physical challenges that were outside their comfort zone.