WELLINGTON, April 10 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese and Asian tourism markets are developing and changing so fast that New Zealand companies must learn to create demand, rather than just respond to it, a senior executive with New Zealand's main international gateway said Wednesday.
Travelers from Asia, particularly China, were increasingly taking holiday recommendations from banks and credit card companies, rather than the traditional travel agencies, Auckland Airport general manager aero commercial Glenn Wedlock told Xinhua.
Speaking ahead of this month's Auckland Airport Asia Summit, which will feature top executives from leading travel and communications-related industries in China and Southeast Asia, Wedlock said New Zealand companies would have to adapt by offering new products and experiences.
Of China's estimated 2.7 million "high net worth" individuals, 1.6 million were likely to seek travel advice from their bank, and banks were advertising more products as incentives for customer loyalty, Wedlock said in a phone interview.
"That's a very important market. To offer products to the banks, companies like ourselves are working in partnership to offer promotions," said Wedlock.
"We're working closely with China Union Pay through their partner banks, like the China Construction Bank, to create opportunities around selling incentives, creating products purchased through local representatives."
James Yang, South Pacific chief representative of China Union Pay, the world's second largest credit and debit card service provider, would be a keynote speaker at the April 19 summit with insights into how to connect with the holders of China's 3.5 billion cards.
"When markets are moving this fast, you have to be very demand- led and matching new experiences to what they're looking for," said Wedlock.
Another speaker would be Ken Hong, general manager marketing strategy for Sina Weibo, the Chinese social networking service with more than 500 million registered users and almost 50 million daily users.
New Zealand tourism operators were increasingly using Chinese social media, but more awareness was needed, said Wedlock.
Research commissioned by Auckland Airport showed that more than 80 percent of Chinese visitors knew little or nothing about New Zealand before they arrived in the country.
About 4 percent to 6 percent had not heard of New Zealand, but took advice on a holiday in the country; 11 percent had heard of New Zealand, but knew nothing about it; while 66 percent knew only a little about the country.
"What we've got to do is make people more aware of New Zealand to increase the appeal," he said.
Auckland Airport had begun identifying trends among independent Chinese travelers through feedback on its own Weibo account, where growing numbers were inquiring about honeymoons and self-drive holidays.
The company was expecting 500,000 Chinese travelers a year in 2020, compared with more than 200,000 in the year to the end of February, which was up about 38 percent on the previous year.
The Auckland Airport Asia Summit 2013 will feature key speakers from China Southern Airlines, China Airlines and Malaysian Airlines.
The summit is part of Auckland Airport's Ambition 2020 strategy being developed with airlines and the travel industry to grow New Zealand's share from high growth markets.
The one-day summit is being held immediately prior to Trenz, New Zealand's main tourism industries showcase.