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New videos featuring major Chinese social influencers are the latest phase of a PR and marketing campaign promoting the Wellington, Tasman, Nelson and Marlborough regions called Heart of the Long White Cloud. 

Wu Ershan, a leading film director, and Shu Qiao, a wine and food broadcaster, feature in a series of eight short videos that showcase the cultural, culinary and outdoors experiences on offer through interactions with locals, including Al Brown and Sir Richard Taylor. The campaign launches this week.

For the past year Tourism New Zealand has been promoting the regions as a new itinerary for Chinese free independent travellers. The promotion has focused on getting Chinese to visit in the off-peak seasons.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England-Hall said the regions tick the boxes for these visitors who are after culture, food and wine, outdoors and wildlife.

“Wellington and the top of the South is part of Tourism New Zealand’s new strategy that focuses on encouraging tourists to visit more parts of the country. China is our second biggest visitor market and rapidly becoming a market of independent travellers, so there is plenty of scope to encourage them to explore new routes and travel at different times of the year.

“Wu Ershan and Shu Qiao complement the regions perfectly. Shu is an extremely well known food and wine writer and Wu is a very well-regarded food director. Both are influential among our target Chinese visitor who we know are interested in culture, food and wine and outdoor activities,” said Mr England-Hall.

“Shu Qiao and Wu Ershan both loved working on the campaign.

“Gourmet has always been the key theme of my work,” said Shu. “It's been an honour working with Tourism New Zealand to discover the Heart of the Long White Cloud. The diversified food experience in Wellington satisfied the ultimate pursuit of your taste bud, while the food and wine under the sunshine of Marlborough illustrates the food philosophy of New Zealanders: follow the nature, and respect the ecology. I believe more and more mature Chinese tourists can join me for such an authentic food and wine journey in New Zealand and enjoy in-depth engagement with the warm and friendly local people.”

“Thanks to Tourism New Zealand's invite, I can be part of the great campaign Heart of the Long White Cloud,” said Wu. “This is a call from the pure nature, and a journey into the source of creativity in New Zealand. The art deriving from the nature is magical. And the culture, which is free and inclusive, is the true engine that powers the endless creativity and imagination.”

As part of the project Tourism New Zealand and regional tourism organisations WREDA, Destination Marlborough and Nelson Tasman Tourism, have worked with the operators to develop product and itineraries that will interest Chinese free independent travellers. Operators such as Weta Workshop and Te Papa in Wellington; Wilson Abel Tasman Tours in Nelson; and the Marlborough Tour Company in Marlborough; have all seen an uplift in Chinese visitors since the campaign started.

Robin Corbett from Wellington Hammond Tours said, “Over the past 12 months we have invested over $50,000 into technology for our tours, to offer commentary in Mandarin and other languages, and have brought on Chinese speaking guides for a more personalised experience. We’ve definitely seen increases in Chinese patronage since these introductions, and our commitment to this market is on-going. We absolutely back Tourism NZ and WREDA’s initiatives to develop this critical visitor segment for Wellington.”

Scott McKenzie, General Manager, Marlborough Tour Company said: “The hosting of key opinion leaders such as Shu Qiao is a no brainer. The growing Chinese visitor market offers three great attributes to Marlborough. Firstly this is a market that travels to the regions to seek out unique experiences. It is a market that spends well on quality and, more importantly, it’s a market that isn’t influenced by seasonality. In fact the Chinese enjoy our New Zealand seasons, the changes in colours, the changes in temperature, and the uniquely different experiences to be had in the different seasons. This is key for Marlborough that struggles with extremes in visitor seasonality and the challenges that seasonality creates for tourism businesses. Tourism New Zealand’s approach of using key opinion leaders is a very effective way to influence a market, especially a market so full of advertising clutter. It achieves the cut through that a lot of other marketing techniques can’t achieve and gives the Chinese a taste of what is on offer in the Marlborough region.”

Tourism New Zealand