Wellington as China will see it

17:00, Sep 05 2012

Wellington's best qualities will be broadcast to more than 100 million viewers next month in a Chinese documentary that could lead to a significant boost in tourism spending.

A six-person camera crew from China's third largest TV company, Zhejiang International Group, filmed on Lambton Quay and at the top of the Cable Car yesterday, after taping on Cuba Mall last night.

The documentary, with the working title Beautiful Wellington, will be broadcast in Chinese and English during prime time in 56 countries.

The number of Chinese visitors to New Zealand grew by a third in the past year to nearly 180,000, spending an average $3200 each during a average 17-day stay.

The documentary came about from a conversation council economic portfolio leader Jo Coughlan had over dinner with a television company executive during the mayoral delegation to China in May. She said it had enormous potential for the city's tourism and education sectors.

"The documentary will show millions of Chinese what New Zealand is like, in particular Wellington, and hopefully generate interest in studying, working or visiting here."

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The film crew was up at 5am yesterday to get a bird's-eye view of Wellington from the top of Mt Victoria at sunrise before visiting the Settlers Museum at Petone, coffee roasting at Cafe L'affare, Moore Wilson Fresh gourmet grocer, the Botanic Gardens and Te Papa.

Zhjiang International producer Shirley Cheng said the crew loved what they saw in Wellington and were considering extending the 10 minutes allocated for the documentary to 15 or 20 minutes.

"The history of this country at the Settlers Museum impressed us. The documentary will combine that with Wellington's great tourist attractions, showing the history and scenic spots."

Cheng said tourists from China would enjoy Wellington for its clean air, weather and "tasty" food. The camera crew had been enamoured with the style of food prepared at award-winning Cuba St restaurant Logan Brown.

"We loved seeing how they cook. Those foods we cannot usually taste in China. If Chinese people are looking for a place to visit we will choose Wellington because we can visit great natural [scenes] and also taste great food."

Positively Wellington Tourism general marketing manager Sarah Meikle said any kind of television exposure was extremely valuable to the city.

"China is a really important market for the whole of New Zealand and it is growing at a very fast rate," she said.

"Wellington has been quite a popular business tourism destination for Chinese.

"One of the things we are very focused on is ensuring our tourism attractions and hotels are ready and understand the market and conversely that Chinese operators who sell New Zealand - and Wellington as part of those itineraries - know what products are on offer and suitable for their clientele."

AT A GLANCE

China is New Zealand's third largest tourism market.

Chinese visitors in the year till July were up 33.5 per cent at 177,904.

Typical length of stay is 17 days.

Average spend up 27 per cent last year to $3200 a visit.

China Southern Airlines flies daily to Auckland.

Air New Zealand flies five times a week to Shanghai.

New Zealand was the first destination the Chinese government granted Approved Destination Status in 1999.

BusinessDay.co.nz