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Waikato University Agreement In China Cements Tourism Ties

11 April, 2013

University Of Waikato Agreement In China Cements Tourism Ties

The University of Waikato enhances a relationship more than a decade in the making, with the signing of a letter of intent to cooperate on tourism research with one of China’s most prestigious universities and the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding.

The letter of intent between Sun Yat-Sen University and the University of Waikato brings together some of the best tourism researchers to focus on one of the most important industries for both countries.

Research undertaken by this partnership will involve in-depth analysis of the impact of China Southern Airlines’ route between Guangzhou and Auckland and monitoring change at UNESCO sites in China, giving New Zealanders a better understanding of heritage and historical sites from a Chinese perspective.

It will also encourage further staff and student exchanges between the two universities. Sun Yat-Sen University has already hosted University of Waikato MBA students and it is hoped this will develop even further in the future.

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford, who is in China with a Prime Ministerial delegation, says the Chinese tourism market is becoming increasingly important to the New Zealand economy.

In the past year the Chinese tourism market in New Zealand was up 38% in terms of numbers and 42% in terms of spending. Last year Chinese tourists contributed $650 million to the New Zealand economy. “China is now number two behind Australia, but by 2020 it could be our largest market,” Professor Crawford says.

He says the University of Waikato has “quite a wide and influential network within China” after more than a decade working with Chinese universities, already holds contracts with Chinese regional tourism bodies and also contributes to the New Zealand-China Tourism Strategy.

One focus of the research is the influence that family has on Chinese residents choosing to visit New Zealand.

“Visiting family members in New Zealand is really important, particularly around graduation,” Prof Crawford says. Last year the University of Waikato had 1940 international students, of which 46% were from China.

Prof Crawford says an increasing number of Chinese visitors are free and independent travellers, rather than taking part in group tours.

“Current statistics show 18% of the Chinese market is now making their own arrangements, rather than being part of a tour, and Tourism New Zealand wants to raise that to 25% by 2016.”

“The market is maturing, they are making their own decisions on where they go and what they buy.”

A current aspect of the research is looking at souvenir buying by Chinese visitors. This has been in the news lately, with two companies recently fined for overcharging Chinese tourists and misrepresenting goods as being made in New Zealand.

The Waikato University and Sun Yat-Sen letter of intent will also see comparative research undertaken at the UNESCO world heritage site at Kaiping. The University of Waikato was involved in early research at Kaiping, within six months of it becoming a world heritage site in 2007, and researchers will go back to discover what changes have occurred to both the site and its surrounding communities and economies.

Professor Crawford says the signing of the letter of intent with Sun Yat-Sen University, China’s top ranked tourism research university, is an important milestone for the University of Waikato and it will provide valuable research into an increasingly important industry. The two universities also re-signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the Monday signing.

Professor Crawford is the incoming Chair of Universities New Zealand and is part of Prime Minister John Key’s delegation to China. Professor Crawford speaks on 12 April at a New Zealand–China Partnership forum called Building on the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement – the Next Five Years.


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