Major investment in Asia is paying off for New Zealand and Queenstown tourism operators.
Locally, NZONE – New Zealand’s longest-running skydive company – has experienced a huge boost in Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong visitors over the past couple of years.
“Asia has gone from appearing nowhere in our top 20 to appearing in our top 10 in 12 months,” business development manager Derek Melnick says.
That success has come about solely from NZONE having a bigger presence in Asian media – like featuring in a popular Chinese documentary film Born To Be Wild, and appearing in major national publications and in Chinese social media.
NZONE crew also travelled to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in March and met more than 90 travel sellers.
“Our relationships are starting to develop,” Melnick says.
At TRENZ on Tuesday, Melnick met feature director Zoe Li from China’s influential National Geographic Traveler Magazine – which reaches more than 720,000 people a month.
Li says activities like NZONE’s are likely to appear in a six- to eight-page feature on travel experiences in Queenstown and around NZ, to be published in September.
Meanwhile, Tourism NZ will spend an increased percentage of its $60 million marketing budget in South East Asia over the next three years.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore will be specifically targeted, along with a change in strategy towards China.
This year saw the number of Malaysian tourists increase from below 20,000 to almost 40,000 – technically an increase of more than 70 per cent.
That rise is expected to be hit by Air Asia’s decision to withdraw a service between Kuala Lumpur and Christchurch.
But TNZ has instead secured a commitment from Indonesia’s Garuda Airlines two weeks ago to fly Jakata to Auckland.
TNZ chief executive Kevin Bowler says: “They have 20 planes on order and are moving in to become a scale operator.
“I’m pretty excited about the potential Indonesia has for us, not necessarily to replace the momentum we have out in Malaysia but certainly to assist us.
“China is fascinating. The outbound market is growing at a massive rate.”
The number of tourists outbound from China has increased from 50 million in 2010 to 70 million last year. It is
expected to reach 100 million in two years.