Traveller tapping into Wairarapa tourism

By Emily Norman -
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Keen traveller Richard Chen from China is starting up a tour group company in Masterton.
Keen traveller Richard Chen from China is starting up a tour group company in Masterton.

A business-savvy traveller from China has chosen Masterton as his new home and the base of a new tour group company.

The father of two says he is in the process of buying a Masterton motel to accommodate "mainly Chinese tourists" and is also looking to buy a vineyard in Martinborough.

His company, NZChina Tour Limited, aims to organise and attract Chinese tour groups.

He said it was confidential which Masterton motel he was acquiring at this stage of negotiations.

"We want to use this motel as the first basis for our tour operation," he said.

"I think most often Chinese tourists are confined to travelling to places like Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown, all the big places.

"But these places are too famous and I think Masterton and the Wairarapa area might be overlooked somehow.

"So we need to have some kind of tourism product to develop which will attract Chinese tourists here."

Mr Chen said he was attracted to starting up his venture in Wairarapa because of the many attractions that the "big cities" could not offer.

A standout for him as a tourist was the Wairarapa llamas - "they kind of look like a cute sheep and the Chinese people love them", he said.

"There is also hunting, cycling, wineries, big mountains and beautiful scenery.

"These are all things that the Chinese people like, but they can't navigate around to all these attractions by themselves."

Mr Chen has a Bachelor of Organisational Management from the United States and is a "big lover of tourism", sharing his Wanderlust with his two young children.

"My oldest daughter is only six but she has already been to more than 11 countries and my son is three and a half and he has been to 10 countries," he said.

"We just love travelling around the world."

Chair of Masterton District Council's International Relations Committee Jonathan Hooker said there was a lot of untapped Chinese tourism potential in Wairarapa.

"One of the biggest battles we have is that the inbound Chinese tourism market is hijacked by the main places like Rotorua and Queenstown and nothing much in between," he said.

"But there's a lot more to New Zealand other than Rotorua and Queenstown.

"We've got so much in Wairarapa and it would be such a great experience to get these tourists out in the open, giving them an opportunity to experience our bush and places like Castlepoint and Cape Palliser.

"An opportunity to get up close and personal with animals, see our landscapes, things like that.

"We would love to be able to work with Richard in any way we possibly can to support what he is wanting to do."

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