We have very much enjoyed helping South Island tourism operators
work in China over the past year.
We launched the New Horizons Fund at TRENZ in May 2015, offering
$100,000 to help regional South Island tourism operators capture
the abundance of opportunities from the growing China market. We
wanted to identify operators we could help tailor their offering
for Chinese visitors, take it to China on our "Kia Ora South"
missions and then watch the visitors have a much higher quality
experience in Our Place in the World.
As a result, we have worked with four who offer world-class and
distinctive southern experiences.
The Hanmer Springs China Cluster is a group of 11 companies
working together with a focus on the Chinese market and developing
packages to promote the Hanmer experience, which we know Chinese
Marlborough Tour Company promotes unique experiences throughout
the Marlborough wine region and the Marlborough Sounds, focussing
on specialised wine and food experiences in unique settings on land
and on water.
Ultimate Wanaka showcases the untapped and glacial regions of
Lake Wanaka and the Matukituki Valley, with a range of helicopter,
boat, four-wheel drive and guided walking tours.
Wilsons Abel Tasman is a long established family business which
offers sea kayaking, cruises and walking in the Abel Tasman at the
top of the South Island.
All four companies told of their interest in working in the
China market and their fear of not knowing how to do so. They
credit our programme with giving them mentoring, work information,
training, confidence and a trip to China to talk to hundreds of
travel agents about what they offer Chinese visitors.
All four now have collateral and information on their website
translated into Mandarin, some have employed Mandarin-speaking
staff, they have tailored and re-shaped their offering to suit what
they now understand Chinese visitors can manage. As a result, all
are seeing a steep increase in visitors and future bookings, based
on much more successful interaction with Chinese agents and
An example of the impact of this work was given by the Hanmer
Springs team, which told of businesses' concerns about Chinese
behaviour. Our Shanghai-based staff member helped them understand
why Chinese visitors do things the way they do and what Kiwi hosts
could do to cross the cultural divide. These days, those behaviours
are addressed by a simple guest guideline sheet translated into the
language the guests understand. As a result, the Hanmer Springs
Thermal Pools had 11,000 Asian visitors in 2014 and are on track to
welcome 40,000 this year.