Sophie Ryan is online editor for the Business Herald

Tour operator braces for boom - if she can find the rooms

Sherry He of Skytours says word of mouth brings visitors flocking to our shores but New Zealand does not have enough hotels to accommodate them. Photo / Nick Reed
Sherry He of Skytours says word of mouth brings visitors flocking to our shores but New Zealand does not have enough hotels to accommodate them. Photo / Nick Reed

The swell of tourists choosing to spend Chinese New Year travelling through New Zealand has doubled from last year, for tour operator Sherry He, but the tourism sector can't accommodate the interest.

He, director of Sky Tours, said capacity for her tour company over Chinese New Year had been filled six months ago.

"It is a huge number of visitors coming," she said.

The company had received double the amount of inquiries from last year, and would have put extra tours on, but there was nowhere for the tourists to stay.

Chinese people liked to spend the new year with friends and family, and the desire to travel overseas together was growing, she said.

"They normally like to go and join a tour, or they want a private tour with families and friends.

"Now that the Chinese economy is doing well and people are wealthier, their style of gathering becomes travelling overseas."

He said she has found a four-day tour of North Island is no longer enough for many Chinese tourists.

"Some customers extend their tour to Wellington, ferry to Picton and then do [an eight-day tour of the] South Island."

While celebrating Chinese New Year abroad, Chinese people still want the traditional luxury of a big meal to celebrate the occasion.

He said the tour groups would enjoy a "typical New Zealand dish" and be treated to a lavish buffet.

Lobster and crab were the delicacies they enjoyed.

Chinese tourists could feel the atmosphere of the Chinese New Year while in New Zealand, she said.

"You see the lanterns and decorations in Chinese tradition. People feel happy."

There were opportunities for the tourism sector to benefit from more Chinese tourists over the Chinese New Year period, but present accommodation capacities restricted the amount of spaces the tour company could fill, she said.

"New Zealand is beautiful, people will tell people their experience in New Zealand and it is word of mouth ... this year several airlines from China fly to Auckland and Christchurch, bringing lots of visitors.

"We need more hotels."

- NZ Herald

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