Tourists shun Qtown for re­gional NZ

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - DEB­BIE JAMIESON

Queen­stown ap­pears to be bucking the na­tional trend with an un­ex­pected drop in the num­ber of Chi­nese tourists vis­it­ing.

Des­ti­na­tion Queen­stown chief ex­ec­u­tive Gra­ham Budd said while pas­sen­ger and ac­com­mo­da­tion num­bers were not avail­able, he was hear­ing ev­i­dence of the down­turn from the busi­ness com­mu­nity.

‘‘One of the pieces of ev­i­dence that sup­ports that is that ev­ery one of our ho­tels has got ac­com­mo­da­tion avail­able at the mo­ment. Based on pre­vi­ous ex­pec­ta­tions we wouldn’t have ex­pected that.

‘‘I’m also aware from the travel trade that quite a bit of the ex­pected group trav­ellers have can­celled or de­ferred.’’

The free in­de­pen­dent trav­eller (FIT) mar­ket also ap­peared to have dropped.

Rea­sons be­hind it pos­si­bly in­cluded the Kaik­oura earth­quake, he said.

‘‘It also ap­pears that the avail­abil­ity of ho­tel rooms and in­creased pric­ing has been a fac­tor for Queen­stown.’’

Since 2012 the value of the Chi­nese mar­ket in Queen­stown had grown 50 per cent year on year and it was now the re­sort’s big­gest mar­ket after Aus­tralia.

‘‘Clearly that [growth] is not sus­tain­able in terms of ca­pac­ity and devel­op­ment of mar­ket so I did ex­pect it to flat­ten right down.

‘‘I ex­pected it to be sim­i­lar to last year...it’s clear to me that with all those bits of ev­i­dence that the num­bers are down.’’

Tourism In­dus­try Aotearoa chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Roberts said in­di­ca­tions were that over­all the na­tion­wide num­bers were sim­i­lar to last year.

It may be that vis­i­tors were turn­ing away from hotspots such as Queen­stown in favour of other re­gions.

‘‘We are hear­ing re­ports of very strong vis­i­tor growth of Chi­nese vis­i­tors in places like North­land, Tau­ranga and Ti­maru.

Ac­cord­ing to Christchurch Air­port, 14,000 Chi­nese pas­sen­gers ar­rived in Jan­uary, 4000 more than over the same pe­riod last year.

Tourism New Zealand has en­cour­aged tourists to visit dur­ing shoul­der sea­sons rather than dur­ing the sum­mer peak, and says its sta­tis­tics sug­gest that is work­ing.

In au­tumn last year num­bers of Chi­nese hol­i­day vis­i­tors grew 37 per cent com­pared with a peak sea­son in­crease of 18 per cent.

Chi­nese tourists in Queen­stown.

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