Nearly 50,000 Chinese holidaymakers will shortly land in New Zealand as experts forecast the biggest “golden week” for Chinese tourists in our history.
January and February are traditionally New Zealand’s busiest and most lucrative tourism months but it is the growth in Chinese holiday visitors that is pushing the industry to new peaks.
The so-called “golden week” starting February 7 coincides with the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday week and China’s middle class goes on the move particularly to destinations like Thailand and Japan, but also further afield to places such as New Zealand.
Increased air capacity to New Zealand from China is also helping.
Last February, the country hosted about 46,000 holidaymakers from China, a jump of about 40 per cent on the previous February. The usual February now brings some 20,000 more Chinese holiday makers than a typical January.
Tourism Industry Association (TIA) chief executive Chris Roberts said the increase in Chinese tourism was beyond all expectations. In 2013, a 20 per cent annual growth rate seemed an optimistic prediction but it had been far exceeded and showed little sign of slowing.
Roberts said the industry was growing across the board with international tourism growing by 17 per cent.
The Chinese influx will test South Island tourism operators from rental car suppliers to hotel operators but no one is complaining.