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China market update and air route development

2 December 2014

By Rowan Townsend, GM Marketing, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism

At 5:45pm today the inaugural flight from China Airlines will touch down in Christchurch. This service is from Taoyuan (Taiwan) via Sydney and will run 3 days a week on a seasonal basis and will boost capacity by 24,000 seats over this period. To mark this special occasion we’ve put together some information about how the Chinese visitor market is performing and an update on new service developments.

Importance of China market to Canterbury

Chinese visitors spent $47 million in Christchurch YE March 2014, which is a 137% increase on the past 2 years. When combined with the wider Canterbury region this number increases to $67 million. This is the latest info released last week from MBIE's Regional Tourism Estimates.

Chinese visitors spent $47 million in Christchurch YE March 2014 which is a 137% increase on the past two years.

Rowan Townsend, GM Marketing

This number, and numbers like it around the country, can no longer be ignored by anyone in the tourism industry. China is New Zealand's second largest visitor market. It's here to stay and forecasts predict 12% growth per year until 2020 when there will be an expected 509,000 visitors (compared to the 248,784 we've had YE October 2014).

Forecasts and growth rates for China Market

Year 2013 2014 2015 ...2020 Growth 2013-20 CAGR*
Total Spend ($m) 732 885 1,002 1,699 132% 12.8%
Total Visitors (000s) 229 259 290 509 122% 12.1%
Spend per day 187 184 169 191 2% 0.3%
Length of stay 17.1 18.5 20.5 17.5 2% 0.3%

*Compound Average Growth Rate per year 2013-2020. For more information please refer to the MBIE 2014-2020 Tourism Forecasts.

9 facts about the China market

  1. $889 million total Chinese visitor expenditure (Christchurch is the 4th NZ destination in terms of share of spend – after Auckland, Rotorua and Queenstown)
  2. Visitor arrivals 248,784 YE Oct 2014 (up 6.1%)
  3. Holiday arrivals 181,968 YE Oct 2014 (up 4.8%)
  4. The average length of stay is 19 days. Holiday visitors stay only 8.1 days
  5. The top 3 provinces are 1. Shanghai (15%), 2. Beijing (13%), 3. Guangdong (12%)
  6. China is NZ's shortest staying market, with a 3 day trip being the most common length of stay
  7. 15% of all Chinese visitors come in February (or whenever Chinese New Year falls within the year)
  8. For 96% of visiting Chinese it was their first time to NZ
  9. 90% visited another country on their trip (predominantly Australia)

CCT are currently undertaking a research project to find out more about Chinese FIT Visitors to Canterbury. More details about our recent China Market initiatives.

Changing Visitor Mix 

There is a very strong industry focus on increasing the value of Chinese visitors to NZ by responding to the changing visitor profiles and needs. The big opportunity brought about in 2013 was the travel law reforms that prohibited package tours that were not transparent with their cost structure – known as “shopping tours”. With these changes NZ has seen a +61% increase year to date in the number of Independent Holiday visitors from China, growing from 20,867 to 33,658. This has also led to increases in length of stay. 

China air route development into Christchurch

New China Airlines service details

From 2 December 2014 through to 1 March 2015, you will see China Airlines' planes landing at Christchurch Airport. This service will run from Taoyuan - Sydney - Christchurch on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday each week. The route will be served by an A330-300 aircraft with a capacity of 307 passengers including 30 business class and 277 economy class seats. It will arrive at 5.45pm and with a speedy turn around will be back on its way to Sydney at 7.15pm.

China charter programme – over Chinese New Year 2015

An expanded charter programme during Chinese New Year 2015 has been announced by Christchurch Airport. This programme will include 3 flights arriving on the 15 February, 21 February and 27 February over the Chinese New Year period. The charters are being marketed by GZL International Travel Service Ltd, one of China's largest travel agencies. Christchurch Airport recently signed a strategic partnership with GZL to support more flights from China to New Zealand's South Island. This is made possible through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Tourism Growth Partnership fund. The marketing campaign will see circa $600k invested in growing the China market to the South Island.

In recent months, we have announced a partnership with GZL International Travel Service Ltd, one of China's largest travel agencies, to super-charge the growth in Chinese arrivals. This partnership will see both partners develop a South Island focused promotional campaign with South Island products to back this up,

Matthew Findlay, General Manager Airlines and Alliances, Christchurch Airport

The charter flights will depart Guangzhou at 3pm, arriving the next day at 7.30am. The return flights will depart at 10am, arriving the same day at 5pm in Guangzhou and are expected to be operated by a Boeing 787. The 224 seat aircraft has proven very popular with travellers and should lead to an expected boost in Chinese arrivals in February, with these additional flights offering another 672 seats into the China-South Island market.

Hope you enjoyed our December update on the China market. Keep in touch by following us on LinkedIn.