Chinese ski agreement good for Central Otago

On his trip to China Minister of Tourism John Key has witnessed the signing of a ‘memorandum of understanding’ between the Chinese Ski Association and the Winter Games NZ Trust that could bring big benefits to Central Otago skiing and tourism in general.

ODT reports: China partnership ‘momentous step’

A ground-breaking agreement between the Winter Games NZ Trust and the Chinese Ski Association could be worth millions of dollars to the Central Otago economy.

Real Journeys chief executive Richard Lauder said a memorandum of understanding between the association and the Winter Games NZ Trust, signed in China on Tuesday night and witnessed by Prime Minister John Key, was ‘‘pretty important” in the promotion and development of New Zealand as a skiing destination for the Chinese.

The company bought Cardrona Alpine Resort in late 2013 and over the past two years had been working to attract the Chinese market.

The resort had an agreement with the Wanlong Ski Resort, near Beijing, on employing and training ski instructors.

The Chinese national freestyle team also used Cardrona as a training base during its off-season.

Winter Games NZ Trust chief executive Arthur Klap described the deal as a ‘‘momentous step” for snowsports in New Zealand.

Under the agreement, the association will use New Zealand as its training base and the Winter Games as its competition base during northern hemisphere summers from 2017 to 2021, in preparation for the Winter Olympics being held in Beijing in 2022.

Lake Wanaka Tourism business development executive Geoff Mark said the MoU would reinforce the interest in New Zealand ‘‘as a whole” and would help develop the emerging Chinese ski market, which had begun to grow over the past couple of years.

‘‘If people in China are looking at skiing overseas, they will choose New Zealand.

‘‘The spin-offs for [Queenstown Lakes] in particular will be major and worth millions of dollars to the region.”

Sport New Zealand chief executive Peter Miskimmin said WGNZ was established as ‘‘a key event on the global snow sports calendar”.

‘‘This partnership will deliver real benefits for both countries.”

Tourism in general and especially Chinese tourism is booming, and is one of New Zealand’s biggest economic successes.

It’s not something the Minister of Tourism gets much public credit for. Key is criticised for swanning along and not doing much of importance.

Stuff reported in December: International tourism overtakes dairy to regain top spot as our biggest export earner

Tourism’s $13.5 billion in export earnings has put it ahead of the dairy industry for the first time in five years as the visitor boom continues.

The Tourism Industry Association (TIA) said the figure, drawn from Statistics New Zealand data, was based on the estimated spend by all international visitors, plus airfares. It excluded international students studying here for more than 12 months.

Annual dairy exports totalled $13 billion for the year ended September 2015.

TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said tourism and dairying were both vital to the New Zealand economy, and the recent dramatic growth in international visitor spending highlighted tourism’s important role.

Andrew Little has just appointed Labour’s new shadow cabinet spokesperson Kris Faafoi as Spokesperson for Tourism.

Meanwhile Stuff reports today: Tourism from China will likely outstrip infrastructure, says John Key

Prime Minister John Key is betting his “bottom dollar” that Chinese tourism to New Zealand will reach one million a year, but it is unlikely there is the infrastructure to the numbers.

The “good new part of the story” was tourism had picked up the slack, whereas other parts of the economy had been “a bit softer”, said Key.

“If you think about things like Chinese new year, they’d been a massive boon and extension of the general peak period. There’s no question that we actually do need to build more infrastructure.

“So the air connectivity part of the equation was lifted dramatically, and we’ve seen lots of new carriers return to New Zealand. The point about the infrastructure at the peak is right, we need to build more of that.”