2 December 2014
By Rowan Townsend, GM Marketing, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism
China is now the world's most valuable tourism market with a growing middle class (currently sitting around 150 million people) who are aspiring to travel and spend money. Over recent years the Chinese visitor market to New Zealand has seen substantial growth and the profile of the Chinese visitor has begun to change from group touring to higher value FIT. To support the growth and the development of new air connections whilst still ensuring visitor satisfaction Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism is working on a number of initiatives within the China market.
Here's a taste of some of our recent highlights:
Working with Trade
Inbound Event - Top of the South
CCT worked alongside other RTOs a project called Top of the South. This saw a number of South Island RTOs and operators undertake joint Inbound Operator training in Auckland. As part of this CCT organised a lunch event with 25 key China Market IBOs and Auckland-based China Market media outlet Sky Kiwi.
Kiwi Link China and Frontline Training
In mid-November CCT attended Kiwi Link China in Shanghai. This saw CCT meeting with representatives from 96 key travel companies in a series of 14 minute appointments. CCT leveraged this by participating in frontline training prior to the Kiwi Link. This training took place in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai – where almost 400 individual frontline staff where trained on all things Christchurch and Canterbury.
Our Insights from Chinese Trade:
- Awareness of Christchurch and the Canterbury region amongst buyers was very limited. It varies depending on where trade are from with Shanghai and Guangzhou being most educated and buyers from Beijing and Nanjing having extremely limited understanding.
- Most companies use Christchurch as a transit point and with itineraries that include 0 or 1 night stay in Christchurch. Christchurch product included in the itineraries is minimal with most companies providing a city tour with a driver/guide.
- In the Canterbury region Aoraki Mount Cook Mackenzie and Kaikoura products have the highest recognition. Specifically this includes operators such as Whale Watch Kaikoura, Earth & Sky and The Hermitage who have been active in this market over a number of years now see significant returns on investment.
- Approximately 20% of the buyers state they find it difficult to secure accommodation at the required level. All ADS approved companies must use 4 star Qualmark rated properties and this puts pressure on securing beds in high season, especially in Christchurch and Lake Tekapo. Chinese New Year 2015 period is at an extreme pressure point across all the main centres of New Zealand. FIT Focused companies are more flexible in both their destination and accommodation choices.
- Overall the response to Canterbury region has been positive. The city in the rebuild phase is not particularly appealing proposition for the market, however with suitable commissionable product and heightened level of engagement with trade, there are numerous opportunities to pursue.
We know that Chinese visitor numbers are forecast to continue their patterns of growth. This means those tourism operators who understand the needs of this market and are prepared to deliver a product that will fit their requirements, will benefit hugely from this growth.
So at the forefront of our activity is industry training. Over the course of the past 2 years we have completed 3 rounds of industry workshops in Canterbury and have trained over 550 individuals on "Getting Ready for China". In October, we ran a series of workshops in Kaikoura, Christchurch, Geraldine and Lake Tekapo. Feedback from the workshops has been very positive – with 100% saying that the information gained will be useful in their roles.
Gaining China market insight
In the coming weeks, CCT will be undertaking research to get to know the needs and requirements of the Chinese FIT visitor who is experiencing our city and region. This will begin next week with findings due back in January. It's intended that this research will help tourism operators within our region maximise the visitor experience of FIT Chinese visitors as well as gauge the appeal of the region to this market and their overall value to the tourism sector.
It is intended that this research will help tourism operators within our region maximise the visitor experience of FIT Chinese visitors as well as the appeal of the region to this market and their overall value to the tourism sector.Rowan Townsend, GM Marketing
Social media activity and website translation
In November, CCT in partnership with Tourism New Zealand hosted a Weibo campaign featuring romantic Christchurch and Canterbury activities. Six operators (The George, Garden City Helicopters, Shamarra Alpacas, Black Cat Cruises, Earth and Sky, and Tekapo Springs) took part in the social media campaign, which ran from 13 - 19 November and proved to be a successful promotion, with 462,000 Weibo users viewing the activity and the poster, 1,139 retweets and 375 comments.
The winner is a professional photographer and travel blogger who has 151,020 followers. He and his companion are planning to travel to New Zealand next year and will experience the products offered by the operators. More social media campaigns and activities will be held with TNZ and key influencers next year.
Key pages on christchurchnz.com are also being translated into Simplified Chinese and are expected to go live in the New Year.