New Horizons for South Island

A new fund will help regional South Island tourism operators make the most of the tsunami of opportunities from the growing China market.

The 'New Horizons Fund' is a regional economic development programme initiated by Christchurch Airport, as part of the "South" initiative, which sees all 15 South Island regional tourism organisations working collaboratively in tourist markets.

The programme budget of $100,000 aims to support at least two South Island tourism operators into the China market each year.

The airport's Chief Commercial Officer - Aeronautical, Justin Watson, says the 'New Horizons Fund' is a natural extension of the regional development work "South" has been doing through its 'China Ready' workshops.

"We want to grow the capabilities within all regions of the South Island, helping local operators into this key market and building local capability to enhance the experience for our Chinese visitors," he says.

"We want to develop short and medium term business opportunities outside the high traffic tourism areas of the South Island and ensure all regions see economic benefit from China, so over the coming years we want to see increasing numbers of Chinese visitors reaching those places."

Mr Watson says applications for interested operators will open in July. The fund's support includes such areas as translating marketing material into Chinese, website, social media and signage, plus taking the operator on one of our 'Kia Ora South' trade mission to China.

"We've developed a lot of experience and expertise over the years we've been operating in China and we want to use this to help others into this market. The complete support package for the successful operators will also include the chance to operate with and be guided by Swallow Wang, our Shanghai-based Director of Sales. Swallow's connections and reputation in China are invaluable to SI operators. She has worked extensively with many of these operators over recent years to help them develop their footprint in China."

Christchurch is the fastest growing entry point for Chinese visitors.