News & Activity

Friday, February 03, 2023

Return of Chinese visitors marks a positive step in recovery

The return of Chinese international visitors to New Zealand marks an important milestone in New Zealand’s continued recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic says Tourism New Zealand’s Chief Executive René de Monchy.

“We are excited to welcome Chinese visitors back to New Zealand, although we anticipate the return to be gradual. The first arrivals will likely be visiting friends and relatives with leisure travel picking up in the coming months,” says de Monchy.

“Tourism New Zealand is continuing to work hard to encourage high quality visitation to support the sector and New Zealand’s recovery. 

High quality visitors are those that who travel across seasons and regions, their environmental consciousness and engagement with our local culture and communities.  

Prior to COVID-19, China was New Zealand’s second largest market. Chinese visitors are high-quality, often travelling in off peak seasons, engaging in a range of activities and cultural experiences, and have contributed over $1.7 billion to New Zealand’s economy.

Consumer research shows that New Zealand can offer the kind of holiday that Chinese visitors are looking for; stunning landscapes, wildlife experiences, cultural experiences and adventure activities such as skiing and hiking.

“Throughout the pandemic, Tourism New Zealand maintained a brand presence in China to ensure New Zealand was still top of mind for Chinese visitors once they were able to travel again,” says de Monchy.

“We’re now focussed on ramping up our trade and marketing activity to convert demand into bookings as airline connectivity resumes and grows.”

Direct airline connectivity out of China is expected to return to greater than 50% of 2019 by April 2023.

Trade and media famil programmes and events will also start back up again in 2023.

The changes to China’s border have also reinstated group travel to New Zealand. Group tours are run via the Approved Destination Status (ADS)(opens in new window)

Pre-COVID group tour travellers accounted for approximately one third of Chinese visitor arrivals in New Zealand. In recent years consumer research has shown a noticeable shift in the Chinese market from group travel to free and independent travel.