Chinese consul-general visits Marlborough, talks wine, education and tourism

Cloudy Bay vineyard manager Peter Lamb, Chinese Consul-General Jin Zhijain, and Cloudy Bay assistant viticulturist Matt ...
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Cloudy Bay vineyard manager Peter Lamb, Chinese Consul-General Jin Zhijain, and Cloudy Bay assistant viticulturist Matt Duggan.

The Chinese consul-general is getting the message out that Marlborough is still open for business for Chinese tourists.

People's Republic of China Consul-General Zhijian Jin was in the region on Thursday and said he would be letting people know Marlborough, and the South Island in general, was still safe to visit following the earthquake.

China was the second largest visitor market for New Zealand, behind Australia, with 405,504 Chinese visiting the country in the year to September.

Jin said Marlborough did not have the same profile as somewhere like Queenstown, but predicted the region would continue to see an increase in the number of Chinese visitors.

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With more direct flights between China and New Zealand, Chinese tourists were making more repeat visits and taking the time to explore places such as Marlborough, he said.

"The local tourist operators have done a tremendous job marketing Marlborough to the Chinese people."

Jin, who was in the region for his third official visit, also touched on the opportunity for collaboration between the Marlborough and Ningxia wine industries.

​Earlier this year a memorandum of understanding was signed by then-Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman and a representative from Ningxia People's Congress.

The agreement was described by Jin as a kind of 'sister-city' arrangement, which would make it easier to trade machinery, expertise and build New Zealand wine's profile in China, where it had typically been overshadowed by old-world producers.

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"Even though China is still not a key export market for New Zealand wine, it's still been increasing very quickly in the past few years," he said.

Jin attributed this increase to the growing middle-class in China, as well as changing preferences that favoured New Zealand styles of wine, especially white varieties.

The agreement between the Marlborough District Council and Ningxia People's Congress would also increase the number of school exchanges between the two regions, he said.

During his visit, Jin met Marlborough Mayor John Leggett and visited wine, food and tourism companies.

 - The Marlborough Express

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