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‘Team Wellington’ says Nǐ hǎo to China

A new partnership between Wellington’s largest tourism operators will see a $2.5 million funding boost to grow Chinese and South-East Asia visitor numbers to the region over the next five years.

Dubbed ‘Team Wellington’, the partnership is between WREDA, Te Papa, Kiwirail, Weta Studio Tours and Wellington International Airport, 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, as well as continue to grow Wellington’s traditional markets of Australia, USA, and the United Kingdom.

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

WREDA’s Destination Development General Manager David Perks says the Team Wellington project is important to ensure Wellington attracts a larger number of international visitors, especially from the China market after forecasts that it will grow nearly 10% per year by 2024.

“Wellington gets significantly few visitors than Auckland, Queenstown and Christchurch,” Mr Perks says.

“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.”

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.  

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.

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 that 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, Director Commercial at 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 taking a 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.”