WELLINGTON, April 4 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand needs to spend more money to promote the country as a tourist destination to a wider range of Chinese travelers, New Zealand Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key said ahead of his visit to China starts on April 6.
The number of Chinese visitors to the country were increasing rapidly, up 35 percent last year to 200,000, Key said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua at Parliament Building in Wellington.
"On the other side of the coin, however, I think there were 82 million trips undertaken by Chinese travelers last year. That shows we're getting a very small fraction of that," he said.
"We are capable of getting more of those and the question is how do we do that. And I think it comes down to our marketing," the prime minister said, "We shall make sure that Chinese travelers think about New Zealand and become what we would call an 'active considerer'-- someone who is not only thinking about taking a long-haul overseas trip, but also is actively putting New Zealand atop on their list."
New Zealand could use more "brand ambassadors," Key went on to say, citing Chinese actress Yao Chen, who held a wedding ceremony in the South Island ski resort of Queenstown in November last year and broadcast photos of the event to around 35 million social media followers.
The country also had to tailor its appeal to a wider range of Chinese tourists, he added.
"In Japan, we initially, when they started traveling to New Zealand, saw probably more retired older Japanese coming. Nowadays you get a mixture of honeymooners and young people, backpackers and right through to wealthy Japanese who want to go to our luxury lodges," said Key.
"Well, it's also true in China. You've got a very broad range of tourists who could be interested in quite different segments of the New Zealand tourist offering. So we just need to spend more money in that market, promoting New Zealand."
Partnerships with airlines like China Southern to speed up visa processing and familiarization tours for Chinese travel agents were also important in promoting New Zealand, the prime minister said.
Key will lead one of the country's largest ever delegations abroad on his third trip to China since becoming prime minister in 2008. His visit to China will mark the 40th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties and the fifth anniversary of the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).
The seven-day visit from April 6 will include a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the annual Bo'ao Forum for Asia conference on April 7.
Key will also be officially welcomed by Premier Li Keqiang at Beijing's Great Hall of the People and visit the cities of Guangzhou and Shanghai.
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