Scenery doesn’t sell to Chinese market

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Tourism New Zealand is under fire for its scenic pitch to the fast-growing Chinese market – but that’s already changing, TNZ says. 

TNZ’s 100% Pure campaign – run since 1999 – hasn’t worked in China, leading Chinese travel wholesaler Hector Liu claims. 

“From the promotion material, Chinese can’t see the difference from some-where in Tibet or somewhere in China – so they won’t really get why they will want to spend money to go somewhere that far and that expensive [like NZ].” 

Interviewed in Guang­zhou, Liu – who manages GZL International Travel Service – says TNZ’s promotion should concentrate more on people, attractions, culture and sensations. 

Asked which destination best targets Chinese, Liu nominates Australia. 

“Australian tourism authorities know [Chinese] needs and adapt to them. 

“They feature different things during different seasons.” 

TNZ boss Kevin Bowler believes Liu’s criticisms are “spot on”. 

“The idea of just promoting empty landscapes is pretty off-putting for the Chinese. 

“You’ve got to show them what they can do and that they’re going to have a great time. 

“Since about the begin­ning of the year, all of our communications have included that whole experience. 

“We’ve even changed the line a little bit so we go ‘100% Pure You’.” 

Liu also thinks NZ could cater better for Chinese. 

If NZ wants to attract more semi-free and independent travellers, there should be more Chinese signage on roads and at tourist attractions, he says. 

Liu recalls a frustrating experience in Queenstown when a client left his cash in a car and had only a China Union card on him. 

“The whole of Queenstown had only one ATM machine to accept that card but that day it was out of order.” 

NZ also has to change its marketing tack to attract high-end Chinese, Pierre Gervois, boss of marketing agency China Elite Focus, says. 

“Chinese outbound travellers have a very positive image about NZ but this image is more [about] a country with beautiful outdoor experiences.” 

Affluent Chinese would prefer to go to Western Europe or the United States, he says. 

“We need to create a buzz to show that NZ has multiple luxury tourism opportunities – such as luxury shopping, cuisine, golf, boating and yachting, hunting, horse racing, polo, wine tours and luxury weddings,” Gervois says, adding that Chinese seek respect according to their social status.

Philip ‘Scoop’ Chandler’s trip to Guangzhou was courtesy of China Southern Airlines