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Improving the Chinese visitor experience

1 December 2005

Improving the Chinese visitor experience

New Zealand is revamping its approved travel agent scheme with China as part of a broader plan to improve the low levels of satisfaction amongst Chinese visitors to this country.

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The changes to the Approved Destination Scheme (ADS) have been implemented by Immigration New Zealand and follow a recent Tourism New Zealand-led government and industry summit in Shanghai to try and improve Chinese tourist's holidays in New Zealand.

Tourism New Zealand was concerned with research that showed that while 95% of visitors to New Zealand were satisfied or more than satisfied but inquiries within the China market showed a lower satisfaction level.

Minister of Tourism Damien O'Connor says it was no wonder visitors from China were unhappy as they were on low budget holidays where visitors stayed in low-quality accommodation and often did not get to experience any tourism activity.

He says the latest changes will encourage Chinese nationals wanting to travel to New Zealand to book through the ADS scheme.

"The ADS scheme allows us to manage the quality of the itineraries being created for visits to New Zealand," says Mr O'Connor. "And these changes will make using the scheme more attractive to travel agents in China and operators here in New Zealand".

Approved agents can now apply for priority visa processing regardless of where in China visitors originate. This had previously been restricted to the three main metropolitan centres of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong and six provinces on and around the prospering eastern seaboard.

Approved agents will also enjoy cheaper visa fees and faster visa processing times than agents outside the scheme. Mr O'Connor says the latest changes have already created a lot of interest amongst travel agents wanting to sign up for the ADS scheme but he says there is more to do to improve the Chinese visitor experience in New Zealand.

"While the ADS is an important short-term measure we need to look at ways to further tighten quality measures and increase New Zealand's profile in this market so that prospective visitors understand what to expect from a quality New Zealand holiday and don't resort to price as the deciding factor when making their purchasing decisions."

In just six years China has grown to become the sixth-largest source of holiday visitors to New Zealand. In the last year about 85,000 mainland Chinese came to New Zealand, up 7% on the previous year, with indications that this growth could continue for some time.

Set up by the New Zealand and Chinese Governments in 1999, the Approved Destination Scheme allows Chinese out-bound travel agencies to package and market a quality experience. To qualify, travel agents must complete training on the New Zealand visitor industry and meet Immigration New Zealand requirements. Approved travel agents can apply for priority visa processing.

The scheme is mirrored in New Zealand by the ITOC China Market Portfolio Group. ADS group visas are only approved if the travel company handling the tour in China uses an approved ITOC inbound operator in New Zealand.

ENDS

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