Tourists shun Qtown for regional NZ
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.