New Zealand regions a hit in Chinese cyberspace

More than 11 million people have viewed Tourism New Zealand’s ‘Discover the Heart of the Long White Cloud’ online campaign showcasing New Zealand’s central regions.

Director Wu Ershan experiences a waka ride

Launched in June, the series of eight videos featured Chinese leading film director Wu Ershan and novelist, and food writer  Shu Qiao teaming up with locals including chef Al Brown and Weta Workshop’s Sir Richard Taylor to explore the culture, food and wine, outdoors and wildlife in Wellington, Tasman, Marlborough, and Nelson.

The videos have been broadcast on China’s leading social media platforms Weibo and WeChat, video sites Tencent TV and Iqivi, and were promoted by 36 online key opinion leaders on various digital platforms.

To date the campaign has also led to 504 stories on television, print, and online sites equating to $12.6 million in equivalent advertising revenue.

“These are fantastic results from what was one of our ventures into China’s online space, and it is still early days. Wu Ershan and Shu Qiao were fantastic to deal with and have obviously really resonated with the Chinese audience. Working directly with different key opinion leaders on the various platforms has also given us insights into this form of marketing,” said Tourism New Zealand’s Director, Trade, PR and Major Events René de Monchy.

“China is a major market for New Zealand. Traditionally Auckland and Queenstown have been the top local destinations for Chinese travellers and this campaign has been an excellent way of promoting our amazing central regions and all the activities on offer. Wu Ershan was impressed by the blend of New Zealand Maori culture and film and took the opportunity to go out on a waka on Wellington Harbour during his stay; while Shu Qiao was in foodie heaven with Al Brown exploring the relationship between food and people.”

Three regional development organisations were involved in the project to develop product and itineraries to interest Chinese free independent travellers: Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency, Destination Marlborough, and Nelson Regional Development Agency.

Nelson Regional Development Agency’s International Marketing Manager Gisela Purcell said the project was an exciting opportunity to connect with several regions and showcase what was on offer, particularly over the traditionally quieter shoulder seasons, spring and autumn.

“We absolutely love the videos in the campaign, and the uptake in China has been phenomenal. It was a very different tactic from what has been done before. Wu Ershan took a very personal approach to the videos he filmed about our arts and outdoors and showed how the outdoors inspires creativity in this region,” she said.

In the year to June 2017, 296, 336 Chinese nationals holidayed in New Zealand.