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Chinese New Year growth expected to moderate in 2017

Chinese New Year 2017 will be yet another exciting period for the tourism industry although arrival growth is expected to be moderate compared to the big visitor increases in recent years.

Chinese New Year 2017 will be yet another exciting period for the tourism industry although arrival growth is expected to be moderate compared to the big visitor increases in recent years.

This year it is expected the number of Chinese New Year holidaymakers will be about the same as last year, with around 30,000 arriving over the two weeks.

There are a number of reasons for the moderate growth including: New Zealand becoming a more premium market, changing Chinese travel behaviour, Tourism New Zealand’s focus on the shoulder seasons and increased international competition.

The moderation in growth is not a surprise says Tourism New Zealand’s General Manager Asia David Craig.

“New Zealand experienced rapid growth in recent years of up to 40 per cent so a slowdown in growth can be expected. It comes at a time that New Zealand has become more expensive and other markets, especially the US and Europe, compete hard for Chinese visitors. China’s economic slowdown means their consumers are becoming more price conscious.

“At the same time Chinese travel behaviour is changing. There are fewer tour groups coming but the number of free independent travellers (FIT) is increasing. This has benefits for New Zealand as a tourism destination. Our primary focus is on FITs because they spend more over a longer time period and in more regions.

“There are still likely to be 27,000 to 33,000 visitors for the two weeks of Chinese New Year, providing great opportunities for tourism operators,” said Mr Craig.

Chinese New Year is earlier this year than in previous years, clashing with domestic school holidays and the height of peak season, putting pressure on hotel room availability. Mr Craig says he expects many potential travellers will come in the autumn.

“Our shoulder season strategy has begun to show results. In autumn last year Chinese holiday visitors grew 37 per cent compared with a peak season increase of 18 per cent. The results were even better for FITs with 62 per cent growth in shoulder compared with 23 per cent at peak. 

“Chinese New Year, and the weeks around it, will continue to be a key travel period for the Chinese, especially families, much as Christmas is an immovable family time for Westerners, so operators can look forward to a busy fortnight for the foreseeable future,” said Mr Craig.

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