Chinese eye NZ tourism investment

Nicole Zheng, left, and Sherry Liu, from China at Hell's Gate thermal mud pools. Photo / Stephen Parker
Nicole Zheng, left, and Sherry Liu, from China at Hell's Gate thermal mud pools. Photo / Stephen Parker

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce is hosting a tourism investment summit to help New Zealand businesses better capitalise on burgeoning growth in the Chinese tourism market and encourage Chinese investment in this country's stretched tourism infrastructure.

The chamber, which counts many prominent Chinese companies among its members, is organising the inaugural New Zealand Tourism Investment Summit, set to take place in Auckland on October 31 and Queenstown on November 2. It will host about 100 high net worth guests, including some of China's top investment advisors and tourism leaders, as well as investors keen to invest in New Zealand's tourism infrastructure.

New Zealand tourism arrivals are at record levels, hitting 3.36 million in the year through August, with the biggest gain coming from an extra 83,728 Chinese holidaymakers. The industry is trying to manage the growth by finding ways to lure tourists in the off season and by seeking additional investment in infrastructure, with an estimated shortfall of 26 hotels needed in the next decade.

David Wang, chairman of the Chamber and managing director of the Bank of China (NZ), said the bank has invited many of its premier clients to attend the event and is excited to show them "the many opportunities that exist in New Zealand".

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise research released in May showed the country's five major tourist centres - Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown - currently have just over 20,000 hotel rooms. With 5,171 additional rooms planned by 2025, that leaves a projected shortfall of 4,526 rooms - or 26 hotels the size of Auckland's Sofitel Viaduct.

The research is part of "Project Palace", a programme aimed at speeding up new private sector investment in New Zealand hotels led by NZTE and the government's Investment Attraction Taskforce.

The latest Tourism 2025 update highlighted the need for more infrastructure investment to ensure New Zealand has the facilities for sustainable tourism growth and to meet the industry's targeted $41 billion revenue by 2025.

Government officials, the Tourism Industry Association, local government and the private sector are working together to identify available locations for additional hotels in each of the five locations and to attract new investment. The government has a target of attracting an extra $160b to $200b of capital in the next 10 years and also to boost regional economies.

As well as investment in tourism infrastructure, the conference will explore how New Zealand businesses can gain a better understanding of the new wave of affluent Chinese tourists, and target an increasing number of free independent travellers who don't travel with organised groups.

Speakers will include Song Rui, director of China's Tourism Research Centre, who will offer insight into how Chinese culture influences Chinese independent travellers, such as a desire for harmony with nature.

China is New Zealand's largest trading partner and the increased business ties mean there will be more than 50 direct flights to China each week over the busy summer season.

- BusinessDesk

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