Southland benefits from Chinese

23:00, Dec 17 2012

Southland is benefiting from the increasing number of Chinese visitors to New Zealand, the tourism industry says.

But the economic benefits may be limited to the region's tourist hot spots such as Milford Sound at present.

Figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show the fast growing China market is benefiting the South Island's west Coast and Southland, Tourism Industry Association New Zealand says.

TIA chief executive Martin Snedden said while the Chinese visitors predominantly spent their time and money in Auckland, the Bay of Plenty and Otago for the year ending 2012, their footprint was expanding into other regions including Southland.

Venture Southland tourism sector manager Tareen Ellis said while there were a large number of Chinese tourists passing through in Te Anau on their way to Milford Sound, the Chinese tourism market was still in its infancy in the rest of Southland.

"We are seeing lots of Chinese tourists as part of coach tours to Milford Sound but the number of Chinese travellers in the rest of the region is still minimal," Ms Ellis said.

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But there was definitely a market for increasing the number of Chinese visitors to the rest of Southland, she said.

"The younger Chinese are increasingly adopting FIT (Free-Independent-Travel) methods of touring New Zealand."

China was emerging as one of New Zealand's biggest tourism markets especially since traditional markets had slowed with the global financial crisis, she said.

Growing Chinese visitor numbers to Southland was part of the strategic plan for Venture Southland's tourism team, Ms Ellis said.

The Southland Times