Call to lift game for Chinese

18:35, Feb 27 2013

Many Chinese visitors delayed travel to New Zealand last month, but the number of American tourists rose, apparently because of the Hobbit movie, Tourism New Zealand believes.

Total visitor numbers in January fell 2.3 per cent month on month, and by 2 per cent to 2.5 million for the January year, according to Statistics New Zealand.

However, arrivals from the United States rose 16.6 per cent, or 3500, during the month.

Visitor numbers from the US had in fact been increasing since late last year, said Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler.

Both holiday and cruise ship visitors from America were up strongly and the only possible reasons he could find were a slight increase in available airline seats between the two countries, and the release of the Hobbit.

"The only thing that would explain that result is the movie, really."


The other major trend was a 19 per cent drop in visitors from China in January, but industry figures were unconcerned because they expected a healthy rebound this month.

Travel is traditional with Chinese New Year, which started this month rather than in January as it did last year.

Ken McTague, operations manager at ATS Pacific, an inbound tour operator for the Chinese market, had seen a "huge increase" in tourists for Chinese New Year, and his business did not include the many visiting friends or family. "Compared with other months, we're probably looking at 60 to 70 per cent more people, just for one month."

He also felt New Zealand had been unprepared for the speed with which China had become the country's second-biggest source of tourists. Fairfax NZ

Taranaki Daily News