Tourism sector must cater to Asia or miss out - Snedden

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Touirists take in the sites of Auckland. New Tourism Industry Assn head Martin Snedden says the NZ tourism industry needs to adapt to different expectations of visitors from Asia. Photo / Dean Purcell
Touirists take in the sites of Auckland. New Tourism Industry Assn head Martin Snedden says the NZ tourism industry needs to adapt to different expectations of visitors from Asia. Photo / Dean Purcell

New Zealand's tourism industry needs to adapt to capitalise on opportunities presented by a surge in visitors from emerging markets like China and India, says newly appointed Tourism Industry Association boss Martin Snedden.

Asia offers the best opportunities to grow the country's tourism industry but visitors from Asian countries have different expectations to our traditional Australian, British and American visitors, said Snedden, who took up his new role in June.

"Arrivals out of China in particular have surged over the past few years, while India, which has a big population and a fast growing middle class with a propensity to travel, holds good potential."

To properly realise the potential of these new tourism markets, New Zealand must understand and be confident in our ability to deliver the hospitality and experiences they are looking for, Snedden said.

"Our visitor mix is changing quickly and our approach has to change with it."

The Tourism Industry Association (TIA) has produced two booklets, called the China and India Cultural Briefs, to help tourism operators.

The booklets offer practical tips in areas like service, food and shopping, with the end goal being that travellers will "stay longer, spend more and tell their friends and families that New Zealand is a fantastic destination", Snedden said.

One suggestion in the booklet is for operators to consider providing later mealtimes for Indian visitors who tend to eat later than the average Westerner. Operators are also told that Indian visitors like to shop after dinner.

The Cultural Briefs suggest opportunities for tourism to capture a bigger share of the Chinese and Indian markets, such as romantic options to appeal to Indian honeymooners, and flexibility in pricing to allow for the Chinese love of bargaining.

Both markets want to eat food they are familiar with, but are also keen to experience iconic Kiwi cuisine as long as it's explained to them, Snedden said.

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