Wish you were here in Queenstown, me old China

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The world’s adventure capital will soon be on the radar of 905 million Chinese – thanks to a major media visit this week. 

Nine journalists from some of China’s most influential publications have sampled what Queenstown has to offer as part of a week-long South Island tour. 

Hosted by Tourism New Zealand and Destination Queenstown, the group experienced the Earnslaw, Skyline Gondola, AJ Hackett Bungy, Sunrise Balloons, Nomad Safaris Lord of the Rings Tour, Shotover Jet and local eateries – and they’ll be writing about their stay for young, energetic and wealthy people back home. 

Tong Liu, writer for the Beijing-based 300,000-circulation The Economic Observer, says Chinese visitors are moving away from being just sedentary tourists. 

“The mindset of the Chinese traveller is changing. More and more people are coming here to experience the activities. 

“Our readers are businessmen who would expect comfortable accommodation, yummy food and exciting activities. Some people like skiing. They are very tired of the routine of work so they need something to excite them.” 

Many Chinese mistakenly think the resort’s thrill-seeking activities are unsafe, she adds. 

“Before we did the adventurous activities we thought they were quite dangerous and unsafe. But after trying them we think, ok, it’s not that dangerous.” 

Gwen Gao, travel editor-in-chief for China’s biggest news website Sina.com – which gets more than 900 million page views a day – adds: “We like all the activities here. It’s not just the natural beauty of Queenstown, it also provides so many different activities for everyone.” 

Destination Queenstown boss Tony Everitt says the media trip is “very significant” given the expected growth in Chinese visitors by 2016. 

“You could see a situation in five years’ time where China goes from being number four on our inbound market list to number two. 

“There are 1.4 billion people in China. We want to be talking to about 10-20 million of those at the moment, which is a very small percentage.” 

Local tourism operators need to become savvier in approaching the market to “extract maximum value” and DQ’s planning an industry forum on China next year, he says. 

“We need to be up-skilling ourselves as an industry on how to deal with that marketplace.”