Learn some lingo – Queenstown tourism boss

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A Destination Queens­town manager is challenging tourism bosses and staff to learn 10 words of Chinese.

DQ international markets manager Ben Chapman, at the tourism body’s members’ update last week, said there’s no doubt the resort appeals to the fast-growing Chinese market.

“But we may need to tweak a few things to ensure they’re welcomed and they have a great experience.”

One idea is to learn basic conversational Mandarin, China’s official language.

“I guess most of us in the room by now know what ‘ni hao’ [‘hello’] is, and a few of us will have moved on and know what ‘xie xie’ is.

“My challenge to you all is to expand on that and maybe pick up 10 words, because then you start to have some fun.

“One of the first words I learnt after ‘ni hao’ was the word for beer ‘pijiu’,” Chapman says. 

After being given a warm beer, he says he soon learnt how to order a cold one.

“The next thing someone told me was how to say ‘I love you’, so suddenly I could order a cold beer and tell the waitress I loved her.”

Chapman says he’s noticed frontline staff raise voices to communicate to Chinese visitors, when it’s not that they can’t hear, they don’t understand English.

Chapman commends accommodation operators who’ve tweaked food and beverage offerings to suit Chinese taste buds but says they could consider translating some room compendiums into simple Chinese.

And he has a message for authorities who produce the NZ passenger arrival card.

“On a plane the other day from Hong Kong I had a young [Chinese] guy next to me who could actually speak a little bit of English.

“He got his immigration card and I had to help him fill it out as it was in English, not in simplified Chinese – yet when I go to China it’s in English as well as Chinese.

“This is their introduction to our country – struggling with our language.”