Queenstown’s tourism leader Shotover Jet is going the extra mile to say ‘huÄn yíng’ (welcome) to Chinese visitors in the resort town celebrating the Year of the Snake.
The iconic jet boat company is celebrating Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, with a new souvenir T-shirt specially created for visitors. The T-shirt incorporates the snake in both the year and the ‘snaking ride’ of Shotover Jet through the iconic Shotover River Canyons.
Chinese New Year celebrations start on the first day of the first Chinese month (Sunday Feb 10) and culminate with the Festival of Lanterns, which is on the 15th day and is the most important festival for Chinese people.
Shotover Jet marketing manager Nigel Kerr said the production of the T-shirts and celebration of all things Chinese reflected the growing importance of China to Queenstown over the past three or four years.
"We can’t really predict the numbers for this Chinese New Year, but we can say that we have seen consistent growth year on year at this time of year over the past three or four years," he said.
"We’re definitely seeing more ‘mono-destinational’ Chinese visitors which means they’re coming only to New Zealand rather than going to Australia and New Zealand in one trip.
"As a direct result we’re definitely seeing a strong increase in numbers, because previously where they might have travelled to Australia and only had time for a few days in the North Island, they’re now exploring the South Island too.
"Because the Chinese tend to be quite structured in their holidays, we’re seeing a large amount of them in a very short timeframe, a serious influx of Chinese visitors to both Shotover Jet and its sister business Dart River Jet Safaris over the next two weeks."
The Shotover Jet base building is decorated with Chinese lanterns for the duration of the Spring Festival, and Chinese-speaking staff are on hand to help groups.
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