Chinese aren’t cheap Budd

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Queenstown’s promotion body will develop a more in-depth strategy to attract middle-class visitors from the fast-growing Chinese market. 

Destination Queenstown boss Graham Budd, speaking after his first visit to China, says he’ll develop this strategy with his team in the next few months. 

Budd says his visit last week to Shanghai and Hangzhou confirmed China’s huge potential. 

China this month overtook the United Kingdom as New Zealand’s second largest-spending tourism market, after Australia. 

However the great majority of Chinese still only visit Auckland and Rotorua, as a tack-on to an Australian holiday. 

Almost 187,000 Chinese visitors arrived on our shores in the past 12 months but Budd estimates fewer than 10 per cent made it to Queenstown. 

“The opportunity now is for us to work on a deeper, more specific strategy. 

“It will narrow down and be targeted in terms of the areas where we intervene in the market. 

“This will largely be around higher-value Chinese visitors with money to spend and who are wanting to travel and experience the world.” 

Budd adds a lot of the recent growth stems from China Southern Airlines’ daily service to Auckland which launched last year. This has helped Chinese visitor numbers lift by almost 40 per cent during the past year. 

The airline has stated the service may even go twice-daily. 

“That rate of growth will start flattening off but there are other dynamics in airline services that open up more access from China as well as other Asian markets,” Budd says. 

He believes too many people dismiss coachloads of Chinese visiting Queenstown as ‘cheap tourists’. 

“The fact you’re in a coach, does that immediately position you as a cheap tourist? No. 

“Are they here for a relatively short time? Yes, often they are, but this just demonstrates the opportunity. 

“The fact is they’re prepared to come here for a short time – now our opportunity is to grow that into a week or 10-day NZ visit.”