High-spending Chinese tourists rank New Zealand third on their wish list of places to travel, according to a report from Hotels.com.
The website surveyed more than 3000 Chinese tourists and 3000 hoteliers to compile the Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM).
The third annual edition of the monitor gave significant insights into all aspects of the changing behaviour of Chinese travellers.
The report found New Zealand was among the top three destinations Chinese travellers most wanted to visit in the next 12 months, just behind Australia and France.
Katherine Cole, Hotels.com Australia and New Zealand regional director said New Zealand was in prime position to capitalise on the rise of the Chinese independent traveller and their appetite to discover what New Zealand has to offer.
"China is now New Zealand's second-largest tourist market, so now more than ever, New Zealand hoteliers should ensure they're catering to the needs of the evolving Chinese traveller," she said.
Abhiram Chowdhry, vice president of the Hotels.com brand, said that last year 97 million Chinese tourists travelled abroad, up 14 million on 2012.
"For the first time since we launched the Hotels.com CITM report three years ago, more than half of global hoteliers surveyed say they have seen an increase in the number of Chinese guests in the previous 12 months," Chowdhry said.
There were many factors driving the desire of the Chinese people to explore the world.
"The rising affluence of the growing middle class with higher disposable incomes, the upward trend in the numbers of repeat travellers, more-relaxed visa conditions and improved local infrastructure are all dovetailing to expedite this growth," he said.
"Our report also quantifies another factor - the rate at which technology is transforming the landscape of Chinese overseas travel."
More Chinese travellers go online, particularly via mobile devices, to research and book their travel and then share their photos and experiences via social media, he said.
The New Zealand hoteliers' survey revealed this country was at the tip of the iceberg when it came to tapping into the growing Chinese travel market, with 60 per cent of New Zealand hoteliers saying that Chinese travellers account for just 1 per cent to 5 per cent of their business.
New Zealand hoteliers were witnessing steady growth in the number of Chinese guests to their properties with 26 per cent of hoteliers recording a 1 per cent to 10 per cent growth in the past 12 months. That was expected to continue growing over time.
The report found New Zealand also ranked third on the list of countries deemed most welcoming to Chinese travellers behind Australia and Singapore.
Cole said initiatives from the New Zealand Tourism Board had driven this.
"From extending the length of multiple-entry visitor visas for independent travellers to forming the premier Kiwi partnership to help promote longer stay and higher quality itineraries for Chinese tours, these initiatives are clearly paying off," she said.
"The next 12 months need to be about continuing to convert the Chinese travellers' wishlist into a reality as we compete with holiday heavyweights Asia, the US and Europe when it comes to attracting the Chinese custom."
Top 10 destinations Chinese travellers would like to travel to in the next 12 months:
3 New Zealand
9 Hong Kong