Embracing the Chinese lingo to support New Zealand’s fastest-growing visitor market is supported by Prime Minister John Key.
“We don’t think it should be compulsory but we do think more schools should offer Mandarin and potentially Hindi,” Key, who’s also Tourism Minister, says.
“Primarily the Indians speak English so that’s less of an issue but in the case of Chinese, one thing we can see from our visitor surveys is that if we can give them a good experience through better language skills or more tailored food requirements, then you will see greater numbers of tourists come.”
Key – speaking exclusively to Mountain Scene while in the resort last week to open the Hilton Queenstown hotel and Winter Festival – says: “I think there’s no question we’re going to see an explosion of Chinese visitors in Queenstown and in NZ in general.”
However, Key doesn’t share industry concerns that the extra visitor numbers coming into Queenstown for the Rugby World Cup this spring will be partly offset by a loss in traditional tour business.
“Occasionally I hear that line – I’m not the person that’s taking the bookings so I can’t say one way or another.
“But I think it’ll be unlikely.
“ANZ bank went and did quite a lot of analysis as to what happened after the 2005 Lions tour and they found a lot of people ended up coming down to Queenstown after the Lions had been there. I reckon Queenstown’s going to do very well from the RWC.”
Key supports night flights into Queenstown Airport, which raises noise concerns for many of its neighbouring residents.
“As the Minister of Tourism I think it would be a good idea because I think ultimately it would allow greater access to Queenstown.
“It’s something that locals will need to debate, and I guess like all of these things there can always be curfews.
“But overall the demand into Queenstown’s going to continue to increase and having greater flexibility with night flights is certainly something that’s worth considering.”
And following the Tourism Industry Rendezvous New Zealand trade expo – held in Queenstown for the first time last month – Key is keen to see it return “on a fairly regular basis”.
“The feedback we had was everyone enjoyed it here. It was a smaller facility so it was more intimate and that actually helped people getting around the various booths.
“But I think the main thing is for the international audience that comes and you’re introducing them first-hand to Queenstown and what is one of the most picturesque and beautiful parts of NZ.”
Key adds: “I know people really enjoyed the activities that they went on and that all helps build a picture which is very positive in terms of bringing more tourists to NZ.”