(Xinhua) WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand’s indigenous Maori tourism industry is to send its largest ever delegation abroad to a major Chinese travel expo next month as it looks to China to boost the industry’s fortunes.
The 16-strong delegation would include representatives from Whale Watch Kaikoura, Te Puia (the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute) in Rotorua, Waipoua Footprints of Northland, and Otane of Christchurch, said Glen Katu, chairman of the New Zealand Maori Tourism Council.
New Zealand Maori Tourism would have a stand at the China ( Guangdong) International Tourism Industry Expo (CITE) in Guangzhou from Sept. 2 to 5, where they would present and promote New Zealand, Maori tourism products and Maori culture, said Katu.
The popular Patea Maori Club performance troupe, known for their international hit “Poi E” in the 1980s, would also perform at the expo.
“This is a great opportunity to boost New Zealand and Maori culture and promote New Zealand as a destination for Chinese travelers,” said Katu.
He said the New Zealand Maori Tourism Council had been asked by China Southern Airlines and GZL International Travel Service to help them promote New Zealand.
The Maori tourism sector was being offered a prime spot in an expo that attracted 1,000 exhibitors and 150,000 visitors to last year’s event, which also boasted on-site business deals worth 1.8 billion yuan (281.7 million U.S. dollars) and sales revenues totaling 100 million yuan.
China Southern Airlines announced last week that it will increase direct services between Guangzhou and Auckland from three a week to daily in November in order to meet growing demand. It is also understood to be in talks with Wellington Airport, which serves New Zealand’s capital, about direct services.
“This is a major opportunity for us to promote New Zealand’s distinctive Maori culture and we intend to make the most of it,” said Katu.
The Maori and Chinese shared many cultural characteristics such as their natural herbal-based medicinal and strong culinary traditions.
“About 130,000 Chinese came to New Zealand last year, and their presence has greatly helped with the development of Maori industry. With the numbers set to rise, we aim to show China that New Zealand’s Maori have a lot more to offer,” said Katu.
The CITE, organized by China’s National Tourism Administration and the Guangdong provincial government, is one of the biggest annual tourism trade shows in China.
According to the Tourism Administration of Guangdong, outbound visitors from the south China province totaled 39.5 million last year, up 20.5 percent year on year, accounting for 70 percent of the total national outbound figures.
New Zealand government figures show China is one of New Zealand ‘s fastest growing visitor markets with growth of 22 percent for the year to July, making it New Zealand’s fourth largest inbound tourist market with 133,000 visitors in the past year.
Chinese visitors injected 410 million NZ dollars (337.1 million U.S. dollars) into the New Zealand economy in the 12 months to June, and, according to Auckland Airport, the expanded China Southern Airlines services are forecast to give the economy a boost of 100 million NZ dollars.
The number of Chinese traveling abroad annually is expected to rise from 50 million to 100 million over the next five years.