by Tim Hunter, Chief Executive, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism
4 February 2014
Across our province one gets the feeling of new optimism and a sense of relief as visitor arrivals from our long haul markets get back to normal...with all the old seasonal stresses on our accommodation stock and tourism pressure points.
An added bonus is that the China market has discovered the South Island big time and practically all the growth in the last year has come from the independent travellers with good length of stay and a higher level of participation in tourism activities than their group counterparts who are obsessed with shopping.
TNZ's social media strategy has reaped a quick dividend in China with a surprisingly active response from young professionals. This cohort have quickly adopted the endorsements from celebrities like Yao Chen that the South Island is the place to be. And it's all very real – a few weeks ago I pulled into the Lake Pukaki lakefront car park and quickly worked out that the occupants of more than half the cars there were Chinese couples getting an eyeful of the South Island's best scenery. Chinese travellers are in awe of our rural environment and seem to stop randomly to check out farm animals, lupins and salmon farms. They are also becoming a big star gazing audience.
In Canterbury we have a marvelous opportunity to make our foray into the China market a huge success by leading with a product experience strategy that drives strong word of mouth endorsement.Tim Hunter, Chief Executive, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism
In Canterbury we have a marvelous opportunity to make our foray into the China market a huge success by leading with a product experience strategy that drives strong word of mouth endorsement. This requires focusing on tailoring our tourism experiences to suit this new market. Late last year we had surprisingly good attendance at the eight Getting ready for China workshops we ran across Canterbury. Our tutor Amy Adams revealed a whole new layer of cultural intricacies that we must understand to make a success of being good tourism providers – we will soon move to phase two of this training with tourism businesses that want to get more serious about being China ready.
Because our China market has become so self drive in travel style the roadside experience including roadside food is going to be particularly important. I will know we have been successful when the current Anglo-Saxon offering of pies and white sandwiches is replaced in part with an equal offering of hot dishes suitable to the Asian palate; simple stir fired vegetables and noodles would be an adequate start. Chinese travellers are real foodies and food is a key component of their holiday satisfaction. My task this month is to find a Chinese consultant chef who can assist our roadside café community with free advice and suggestions for lunchtime menus. Those that embrace a change are likely to do very well!