China could lift off-peak tourism

Monday March 02, 2015 Written by Release Published in Economy
Drummers welcome a group of Chinese tourists who made an historic charter flight from Bora Bora direct to Aitutaki on Friday, February 20. Drummers welcome a group of Chinese tourists who made an historic charter flight from Bora Bora direct to Aitutaki on Friday, February 20.

The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation is investigating emerging markets in China and Japan in an effort to boost visitor numbers during the  traditional off-peak months.  

Chief executive Halatoa Fua says the project has the full backing of the board, and is supported by the NZAID programme. 

“We are literally starting from ground zero, and we are satisfied that with careful long term planning, the pathway forward is sustainable,” Fua says.

“This is not a sprint, it is a marathon”. 

The corporation has established offices in both in China and Japan and Fua says awareness and trade partnership programmes are now in their second year.  Both countries have been identified as key markets with good international flight connections with Auckland and Sydney.  

Director of Sales and Marketing Karla Eggelton said the market had huge potential to boost visitor numbers in the low and shoulder seasons, but added that China was a complex market.  

“The exploratory work undertaken highlights the unique elements of working with this market. There have been many lessons learned from the destinations that have engaged earlier with the Chinese market.  We are fortunate to have been provided this insight,” she said.

Some of the challenges included language, geographical targeting, mobile roaming and internet access, trade partner programmes and creating effective awareness and advertising campaigns, she said.

There were also complex issues involving transit/visa processes and air ticket pricing when visitors were travelling via New Zealand, she said.

“Our job is to make travel seamless and easy from awareness through to the purchase stage of the marketing funnel. Realistically, this will take time, but it is looking good so far.”

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