Star's wedding exposure worth multimillions

BRIDE BOUNTY: Yao Chen on her wedding day in Queenstown.
BRIDE BOUNTY: Yao Chen on her wedding day in Queenstown.

Chinese actress and social media phenomenon Yao Chen's wedding was a massive boon for tourism in Queenstown and in New Zealand, councillors were told yesterday.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd presented the promotional organisation's six-monthly report to a Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting.

He said Queenstown was portrayed as the ultimate destination for weddings and honeymoons in Chinese coverage after Chen married Cao Yu in the resort in November.

The Chinese actress is one of the most-followed social media personalities in the world alongside Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.

She has almost 37 million followers on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, Weibo.

Mr Budd's report said global market conditions were difficult and the trading environment was challenging although anecdotally this summer was pleasing.

Chen's visit dramatically attracted attention to New Zealand among Chinese media and for much of November her wedding was the hottest topic on Weibo.

"The wedding venue, the activities that Yao Chen enjoyed, places she visited, every single detail of her movements was talked about."

Her appearance on the red carpet for the premiere of The Hobbit also generated significant media coverage.

Some of the figures surrounding her visit were staggering, the report said.

Forty million discussion items registered on Weibo for the wedding had New Zealand as a keyword, her own posts generated 220,000 more posts and by the end of November Tourism New Zealand had monitored 6900 stories about the nuptials in Chinese media.

The impact of the wedding was phenomenal, Mr Budd said.

Such coverage was the equivalent of an advertising campaign in the tens of millions of dollars.

The Southland Times