Auckland is chasing China’s wealthy tourists, setting up a $200,000 fund to help attract the big-spending visitors to the city.
News of the Auckland Airport and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) fund emerged during Auckland Mayor Len Brown’s trade delegation to China, where he is also seeking investment for the city’s multi-billion dollar transport projects including an inner-city rail link and a second harbour crossing.
The 50/50 joint venture is one of a number of industry initiatives ATEED is involved in, and is also part of Auckland Airport’s programme to develop premium travel markets.
Airport chief executive Simon Moutter said the rapidly growing number of affluent Chinese tourists represents a massive economic opportunity for Auckland.
“They are now spending on average $300 per night, more than European, North American and other Asian tourists. Chinese holiday stay in New Zealand has now grown to an average 6.1 nights per visitor. We expect this to grow as the Chinese become more confident travelers,” Moutter said.
Global tourism trends show an increasing number of high net worth travellers with high spending patterns who are prepared to pay premium prices for a high quality, unique tourism experience or product, he said.
“This fits perfectly with Auckland’s quality tourism proposition.”
Part of the issue is ensuring airlines such as China Southern Airlines, now making direct flights to New Zealand, has sufficient business class travellers to ensure the service is viable.
ATEED’s tourism manager Jason Hill said the fund planned to directly target the airline’s Chinese elite travel club customers.
He said it was important the industry maximised the potential out of China, which is now Auckland’s fastest growing market, with visitor numbers up 19 per cent on the previous year.
However, travel agents tended to compete for visitors on price rather than selling the region’s full potential, Hill said.
“We’re suffering from a gateway image in China. But Auckland can deliver a high level of city comfort and still have that natural environment that is the number one selling point with visitors.”
News of the fund comes as a new air services arrangement with China is announced, tripling the amount of potential passenger flights that can operate between the two countries. It means initiatives like the marketing fund have more room to grow, Hill said.
There were plenty of good hotels in Auckland such as SkyCity Grand or the Pullman, Hill said, and the fund will help let consumers know about the full range of choices available in the region.
Brown will tonight launch the fund at an event in Shanghai hosted by ATEED, Auckland Airport, and SkyCity for 60 multi-millionaire business people from the exclusive Shanghai Travellers Club.