Benefits for South Island tourism operators

More than a thousand business people from Nelson to Invercargill are already seeing benefits of recent training in working with Chinese visitors.

During October, business and tourism operators attended workshops called "Becoming China Ready" being offered through 'South', the Christchurch Airport-led initiative which promotes the South Island as a tourism destination.

Airport CEO Jim Boult says the 20 workshops covered everything from why China is important to New Zealand and ways to facilitate better business interaction, to tips on business behaviour and etiquette.

"We held workshops in 20 different centres and all attendees have been overwhelmingly positive," says Mr Boult.  "They know Chinese travellers make up the second biggest number of travellers into New Zealand and so keeping the travellers' needs and preferences in mind will benefit the whole South Island."

Tourism West Coast chief executive Jim Little says he's already hearing success stories from the workshops.  "One Franz Josef motelier had their website translated into Chinese at a significant cost, but reports it paid for itself within 48 hours," he says.  "A major Hokitika retailer has all staff learning Chinese phrases and is already seeing it paying dividends."

Destination Marlborough general manager Tracy Johnston agrees. "I've had nothing but positive feedback to the workshops, with operators saying it is one of the best they've ever attended," she says. "Some have told me their only regret is not sending every staff member."