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‘Team Wellington’ says Ni hao to China

16 Jul 2018

The number of Chinese visitors to central New Zealand is set to grow, following a new partnership between Wellington’s largest tourism organisations that will see a $2.5million funding boost to grow tourism to the region over the next five years.

Tourists at Mt Vic

Funds from the partnership between WREDA, Te Papa, Kiwirail, Weta Studio Tours and Wellington International Airport has been dubbed Team Wellington, and will be used as part of WREDA’s International Visitor Development Plan: 2018 – 2022. The project aims to grow the number of visitors from China and South-East Asia along with Wellington’s traditional markets of Australia, USA, and the United Kingdom.

The Team Wellington project has the backing of Tourism New Zealand, which will continue to work with WREDA to use the Wellington region as a lever to boost regional dispersal of tourists to the middle of the country.

The project has enabled WREDA to appoint its first mandarin-speaking China Tourism Manager, who will deal directly with Chinese travel trade and tourism operators, and spread the Wellington-word through Chinese social media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo.

China is New Zealand’s second largest tourism market with 447,800 visitors a year, but only 12 percent of those currently visit Wellington.

WREDA’s Destination Development General Manager David Perks says the project is important to ensure Wellington attracts a larger number of international visitors, particularly from China, a market which is forecast to grow nearly 10 per cent per year by 2024 to around 800,000 annual visitors.

“Wellington gets significantly fewer visitors than Auckland, Queenstown and Christchurch. We still have plenty of room to grow and local tourism operators, shops and restaurants are keen to see an increase in visitors.

“We know we’ve got a destination experience that people are looking for with welcoming locals and plenty to see, eat and do throughout the region. The issue we face is a low awareness of what Wellington has to offer in international markets.”

Matt Clarke, Chief Operating Officer at Wellington International Airport says the organisations will work together to promote Wellington in China.

“To date we haven’t focused on China in the way Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch and Queenstown have but it’s definitely time for us to be more focused, and proactive in how we attract and welcome Chinese visitors.”

Rene de Monchy from Tourism New Zealand says the initiative is well timed with 2019 being the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism.

“It’s great to see these key tourism organisations in Wellington taking a proactive and cohesive approach to grow the value of international visitation to the Wellington region.

“Visitor arrivals from China, in particular, are on the rise and the upcoming China-New Zealand Year of Tourism presents the perfect opportunity for regions to leverage this growth.”

Tourists at Weta