China honours New Zealand tourism operator
China honours New Zealand tourism operator
12 Apr 2013
A family-owned New Zealand tourism company’s exceptionally warm welcome to Chinese tourists has been recognised with a prestigious Chinese tourism award.
Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle, a water taxi service on the coast of one of New Zealand’s famed national parks, has beaten some of the world’s largest tourism operators to win a Service Quality award (Silver) at the China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market in Beijing - China’s leading outbound travel exhibition.
The Chinese Tourists Welcoming Awards (CTW) recognises companies that go the extra mile to accommodate Chinese travellers and meet their specific requirements. Previous award winners include United Airlines, Avis and the Seychelles Tourism Board.
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle is based at picturesque Kaiteriteri Beach, near the South Island town of Nelson and on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park.
Thousands of national and international visitors visit Abel Tasman each year, spending anything from a few hours to several days in the park's huge expanse of sheltered coastal waters and native forests filled with diverse wildlife.
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track - one of New Zealand’s nine ‘Great Walks’ - is a major attraction. Walkers can complete the 51km track, which runs the length of the park through coastal forest and along golden sand beaches, in three-to-five days.
The track is made up of a series of shorter easy to moderate walks between bays that are also popular with day trippers and sea kayakers.
Access to the park is by water and Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle runs a fleet of boats offering regular water taxi connections between the many bays and scenic cruises.
Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle co-owner Keith Knapp says he is thrilled with the acknowledgement of the work the company has put in to attract Chinese tourists.
"It is a real thrill to see our little company up there with the likes of United Airlines and Avis. Chinese tourists still make up a small percentage of our business but we noticed a huge increase at the end of the summer season and have put a lot of effort into preparing for the predicted influx," Knapp said.
Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle trains staff in customer services specific to the Chinese market, including Chinese culture and history, cultural nuances and basic language skills. Marketing information such as brochures, the website and promotional videos have been translated into Chinese.
"When the Chinese do arrive they are absolutely amazed that we have gone to so much trouble. We have noticed they are becoming more adventurous so for us it is about attracting Chinese visitors to the Abel Tasman and making it easy for them," Knapp said.
Values and integrity
China is New Zealand’s fastest growing market for international visitors. Earlier this week NZ Prime Minister John Key predicted the number of Chinese tourists would grow five-fold over the next five years to one million visitors annually.
Dr Wolfgang Arlt from the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, which runs the awards, says from 2013 China will be the largest outbound tourism market in the world, spending more than $100 billion US on travel.
Tourism marketer Zane Smith of Vation Ltd, who was in Beijing to accept the award for Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle, said it recognised the company’s strong values, integrity and great service.
"Within minutes of winning I was being approached by Chinese outbound tour companies so the win will have a positive impact on business," Smith said.
"I have worked in the tourism industry for 21 years and have never seen a new market emerge so quickly. Even in the last year the dynamics of the Chinese market has changed, we are now seeing wealthier, more educated and well-travelled Chinese coming to New Zealand. There is huge opportunity for tourism businesses especially as the Chinese also travel in our shoulder and winter seasons."
Background: Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle
Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle is a family-owned water taxi company that operates from Kaiteriteri Beach in the Nelson Tasman region of New Zealand’s South Island.
The company runs purpose-built ferries offering scenic cruises and water taxi services to all the bays on the Abel Tasman National Park coastline, picking up and dropping off walkers and day visitors.
The sea shuttles are designed and built by company staff, and feature indoor and outdoor viewing areas so that passengers can enjoy the beauty of outstanding New Zealand coastal scenery.