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The heart of the long white cloud

By Jo 16 Jun 2017

Waka 600x500
Wu Ershan, a leading Chinese film director, takes a waka ride

Less than 20 years ago, there were no Chinese tourists in New Zealand as they weren't permitted to undertake leisure travel. That all changed in 1998 when New Zealand and Australia became the first western ‘approved destinations’ for Chinese travellers. Now China is New Zealand’s second-largest visitor market and is forecast to overtake Australia as our number one spending market within the next few years.

A change of focus

Wellington hasn’t seen many of these visitors – yet. The early years were dominated by very short Australia-New Zealand bus tours visiting Auckland and Rotorua in three days, including a lot of shopping and some dodgy selling methods. As the Chinese market rapidly matured, Tourism New Zealand’s strategy changed to focus on quality Chinese visitors and now, free independent travellers (FIT).

waka filming
Filming a waka ride on the waterfront
Photo credit: Tourism NZ

Spreading wings across NZ

Chinese visitors have been spreading their wings throughout New Zealand - Queenstown, Milford, Tekapo and Tauranga. They’re skydiving, joining campervan convoys, star gazing and participating in photography trips. Over 400,000 Chinese visitors arrived in New Zealand this year, forecast to reach 913,000 by 2023. And Wellington hasn’t seen many of those Chinese visitors yet.

Wellington a secret no more

This month, Tourism New Zealand China launched their 2017/18 consumer campaign, The Heart of the Long White Cloud. This campaign aims to promote new locations for Chinese visitors to enjoy, and promotes visits outside the peak summer season. The campaign uses eight short videos featuring Wu Ershan, a leading film director, and Shu Qiao, a wine and food broadcaster to showcase the cultural, culinary and outdoor experiences in the ‘heart’ of New Zealand – Wellington, Tasman, Nelson and Marlborough.

With this campaign, Wellington isn’t going to be a secret in China anymore. Here's a rundown on the campaign:

  • The Chinese FIT visitors targeted in this campaign represent a new tourism market for Wellington and one that the region has been under-represented in to date
  • Behind the campaign is over a year of work by Tourism New Zealand’s China-side and product development teams, backed up by hefty China FIT visitor research from Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
  • TNZ has worked alongside operators in an entirely new way to develop new products and resources to meet the needs of Chinese visitors, for example:
  • Te Papa has been offering Chinese language tours for over a year, and now partner with Weta Studio Tours on a guided half-day tour
  • Hammonds Sightseeing Tours invested in headset translation
  • Zealandia has recruited guides and translated its map for Chinese visitors, and Space Place has planetarium shows in Chinese
  • Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency's (WREDA), Destination and Marketing team collaborated with Tourism NZ since this campaign began to facilitate the trip to Wellington and to showcase Wellington's creative, culinary and cultural delights. While our Tourism Trade team worked with local operators on product development, then took these to the Chinese travel market through inbound tour operators, famil visits and trade events like TRENZ.
  • Tourism New Zealand recently stated that after ten days from launch of the campaign, the videos had already been viewed by 3.5 million people and covered in 264 media stories

Five years ago, a Chinese visitor in a waka on Wellington harbour would have been unbelievable. Don’t be surprised if that’s what you see after this campaign. We know that visitors from all over the world enjoy meeting Wellingtonians, dining in our restaurants, learning about our culture and soaking up the scenery in the coolest little capital. Our Chinese FIT visitors will be well-travelled, well-educated and looking to enjoy the same things. Let’s make them welcome in the Heart of the Long White Cloud.

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