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Changes Set to Benefit Chinese Group Tour Market

Date Published: 2 June 2010

Chinese tourists can look forward to better quality group tour experiences, following changes to New Zealand's Approved Destination Status (ADS) programme released this week.

A revision of the ADS Code of Conduct, jointly developed by Tourism New Zealand and the Ministry of Tourism, will help address quality issues impacting travel from China and improve the value of this market.

Shopping is one area that will come under increased scrutiny in the new code, with souvenir shops visited by ADS tours requiring a Qualmark endorsement from 1 January 2011.

Qualmark, New Zealand's official quality accreditation programme for tourism businesses, is currently working on finalising Qualmark criteria for retail stores, which should be announced in the next few weeks.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says the satisfaction levels of Chinese visitors have improved since the first Code of Conduct was released in 2007, but average satisfaction levels are still below those of other markets.

"Around half of our Chinese visitors travel here on ADS visas. Many spend just a few days in New Zealand - they go home less satisfied and spend less while they are here," says Kevin Bowler.

"The way travel is sold in China and the distribution structure around how tours are organised and paid for means that souvenir shops are very influential in the distribution chain.

"Unfortunately this can result in visitors feeling pressured to shop or being exposed to overpriced shopping experiences, which is impacting satisfaction levels among ADS visitors. Qualmark endorsement will help ensure that the ADS programme has some influence and control over the shopping experiences included in ADS tours."

Under the new code, all transport and activities included in ADS tour itineraries will also need to be Qualmark rated or endorsed. Accommodation providers are already required to be Qualmark rated.

"China offers big opportunities for New Zealand tourism, but we need to improve quality, as well as visitor numbers in order to grow its value to New Zealand's economy," says Kevin Bowler.

"This revision to the ADS Code of Conduct includes a number of changes designed to streamline administration of the code and ensure it is effective in increasing the quality and value of ADS tours."

China is New Zealand's fourth-largest inbound tourism market, with just over 100,000 visitors in the year to 30 April 2010. Chinese holiday visitors spend a median of three nights in New Zealand and contribute around $3,200 each to New Zealand's economy (year end March 2010).