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Christchurch Airport, ATEED partner for China push

15 May 2018  By Bridget O'Connell

China is expected to become NZ’s largest tourism market by spend by 2024, according to MBIE.

A new partnership aimed at unlocking potential from New Zealand’s growing Chinese visitor market has been unveiled by Christchurch Airport and Auckland’s regional tourism organisation.

The South Island airport and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development have signed a memorandum of understanding which will help New Zealand businesses tap into Chinese e-commerce platform Alibaba.

The parties will work together to help small to medium-sized Kiwi businesses from both regions sell products and services to hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers who use the range of digital platforms owned by the e-commerce giant.

The focus will be on three key areas – growing Chinese visitors’ spend in New Zealand via Alipay, growing bookings via online travel store Fliggy and encouraging micro-exporting opportunities through Tmall.

Christchurch Airport’s chief aeronautical and commercial officer, Justin Watson, said the “unique” MOU has “enormous potential” and expects it to spark significant interest from businesses in and around greater Auckland.

He said: “Alipay has 520 million Chinese users, Fliggy has 220 million members and Tmall Global has more than 515 million … this presents a huge opportunity for kiwi businesses.”

The Christchurch Airport-led project allows kiwi businesses to sign up to take advantage of these markets, including translating marketing materials.

He added: “This is about using the power of the internet to make it easier for New Zealand businesses, of all sizes, to do business internationally.

“The potential is huge and we are incredibly proud to be working alongside ATEED and creating this opportunity for our place in the world.”

ATEED general manager destination, Steve Armitage, said: “China is a key market for Auckland’s visitor economy. This partnership will help make the Auckland region more accessible and appealing to these high-value visitors.

“As Auckland’s economic growth and tourism promotion agency, this presents a fantastic opportunity for ATEED to help Auckland businesses gain access into the Chinese market. It will also make it easier for Chinese visitors to pre-book travel to Auckland, and utilise the platform for purchases when they are here.”

The MOU builds on work Christchurch Airport has been under its New Horizon’s programme, which aims to get South Island businesses “China ready”.

Part of this strategy saw it sign a memorandum of understanding with e-commerce giant Alibaba last year to promote its Alipay platform.

This world-first partnership with Alibaba has seen more than 3,000 business express an interest in becoming Alipay merchants.

The next phases of the project will see the airport, through its ‘South’ brand, launch stores on Fliggy and Tmall.

The latest initiative comes as new tourism forecasts predict that strong growth will see China become New Zealand’s largest tourism market by spend by 2024.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s tourism forecasts for 2018 – 2024 released this month said China spend would reach $3.1bn annually at the end of this period.

This would put it ahead of Australia which is expected to remain our largest visitor market by number, but has a spend forecast of A$3bn pa by 2024.

China is currently NZ’s second largest visitor market in terms of both arrivals and spend.

In 2017 around 419,000 Chinese visitor arrivals spent around $1.5bn in the New Zealand economy.

MBIE said that these figures are expected to almost double to 800,000 and $3.1bn by 2024 as China transitions from a maturing to a mature tourism market for New Zealand.

Total international visitor arrivals to New Zealand are forecast to reach 5.1m in 2024, up from 3.7m last year.

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