31 October 2012
Rotorua Deputy Mayor Trevor Maxwell and China Southern Airlines Executive Vice President He Zong Kai signing a memorandum of understanding between Rotorua District Council and China Southern Airlines in Guangzhou.
Early this week in Guangzhou, China, a delegation led by Rotorua District Council (RDC) Deputy Mayor Trevor Maxwell signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China Southern Airlines, led by Executive Vice President Mr He Zong Kai and the airline’s senior executives.
China Southern Airlines is Asia’s largest carrier.
The signing was the culmination of months of discussion aimed at collaboration across trade and product development, as well as mutually growing profile and opportunities. This now paves the way for Rotorua to work closely with China Southern’s marketing, PR and foreign affairs departments and through the NZ office to begin implementing practical next steps. The agreement was seen as being very timely and confirming a desire for the parties to work closely together in growing and developing the important China semi FIT (Free Independent Traveller) and high end visitor segments to New Zealand.
The delegation accompanying Rotorua’s deputy mayor Trevor Maxwell included Rotorua District Council’s Economic and Regulatory Services group manager Mark Rawson, Destination Rotorua Marketing’s Oscar Nathan and Shelley Huang, as well as representatives from Rotorua’s local tourism and tertiary education sectors. Also in attendance were Tony Everitt, regional manager Asia for Tourism New Zealand, and NZ Chinese Herald director Raymond Chen.
Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Mayor Maxwell commented on the importance of developing the potential for China’s semi FIT inbound market and working collaboratively with the likes of Auckland International Airport and key regions such as Auckland and Queenstown to achieve this.
He said the MoU was in many respects not just an opportunity for Rotorua to offer enhanced tour options and experiences, but it was also one for regions to work together to offer quality and diversity in itineraries right across the country.
“Currently Rotorua welcomes around 85 per cent of all Chinese visitor arrivals to New Zealand. However the dynamics are changing and it’s exciting for us to be at this juncture with China Southern Airlines, particularly at a time when the market is going from strength to strength,” said Mr Maxwell.
China overtook the United States as New Zealand’s third largest visitor source in September this year, and increased numbers by 38 per cent to 186,800.
In reply to a Rotorua presentation made by the delegation, China Southern’s vice president Mr He Zong Kai acknowledged the opportunity to work together to grow awareness of Rotorua across southern China and at the same time to increase the visitor flow, profile and understanding of China Southern Airlines’ offering in New Zealand.
RDC Economic and Regulatory Services group manager Mark Rawson, said Rotorua had been attracting Chinese visitors for many years and would continue to work with all carriers including Air New Zealand. He said the MoU with China Southern Airlines would require Rotorua to take an even closer look at itself aimed at increasing the value and length of stay of Chinese visitors to the region.
Mr Rawson also acknowledged Auckland-based China Southern’s New Zealand general manager Henry Dai with whom Rotorua officials had initially started discussions on the MoU some months prior.
“This approach is extremely exciting for Rotorua,” said Mr Rawson. “It’s part of a marketing strategy for the destination which will continue to evolve to include other Chinese speaking markets across Asia over time.”
“Working with the likes of China Southern Airlines and other principal carriers to grow inbound value to New Zealand is important for our country’s inbound tourism. Key to this is the likes of Auckland International Airport which is aiming to generate more than 430,000 arrivals from China and across Asia by 2020.”
China Southern Airlines currently fly daily service between Auckland and Guangzhou.