We blew Korea let’s not repeat with China’

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Auckland International Airport’s new boss is warning the tourism industry to learn from the Korean visitor market implosion. 

The airport’s chief executive Adrian Littlewood says its implosion in the early 2000s shows how quickly the tap of a fast-growing market – like China – can be turned off. 

From a healthy 109,000 visitors in 2002, the Korean market slumped 57 per cent during the next decade despite Korean outbound travel growing to record levels. 

Littlewood explains there were changes in the tour market, some subsidies were withdrawn and some agents went bankrupt. 

“Air capacity was withdrawn, marketing investment slowed down because the capacity wasn’t there and suddenly the whole thing went into a downward spiral. 

“We want to be mindful as an industry that these things can turn off very quickly if we aren’t close to those who make those key travel decisions in those source markets.” 

Auckland Airport owns a 24.99 per cent stake in Queenstown Airport Corporation.