A national push to bring more big-spending Chinese tourists is paying off for Queenstown.
A briefing for Tourism Minister and Prime Minister John Key, prepared by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), says international tourism, and attracting high-spending visitors, is a key Government focus.
In particular, the report say there is a drive to increase the number of high-value visitors from China – as New Zealand’s second-largest and fastest-growing visitor market.
Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd says the tourism industry generally has supported that approach by Tourism New Zealand for some time.
”We’ve seen results of that,” he says.
”The Chinese who are now getting to Queenstown are mostly, I would say, higher-value visitors and have grown rapidly.”
MBIE’s latest regional tourism estimates suggest international tourists spent $1 billion in Queenstown in the year ended March 2014 – trailing Auckland’s $2.7 billion figure, but well ahead of Christchurch, on $600 million.
Mr Budd says although Chinese visitors make up an estimated 10 per cent of visitors to Queenstown, they spent $150 million of the estimated $1 billion in the year to April.
That spending had increased 45 per cent in the last year.
For several years, MBIE had worked with the China National Tourism Administration to discourage below-cost ”shopping tours”.
”The true value of getting here is being promoted [in China],” Mr Budd says.
”That’s encouraging the wealthier or the middle class traveller to come.
”Some operators [have been] actively working in Chinese market for a long time. Real Journeys is an example.
”They would be without question benefiting [from Tourism New Zealand and Destination Queenstown promotions] but also from their own investment.”
Of the other international tourists visiting Queenstown, Australians spent an estimated $380 million in the year to April and United States tourists spent $110 million.
The MBIE briefing said the Government was working on several immigration and visa initiatives to make it easier for ”high-value, low-risk” Chinese visitors to get to New Zealand.
In last year’s Budget, the Government allocated an extra $158 million over four years – mostly to Tourism New Zealand – to attract more high-end tourists.
Tourism is New Zealand’s second-biggest export earner and the Tourism Industry Association has set the goal of lifting tourism’s contribution to the economy from the current $24 billion to $41 billion by 2025.
Otago Daily Times