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15 May 19: New programme to showcase Waikato to Chinese market

Waikato’s tourism operators and the wider region are expected to benefit from a new partnership between Christchurch Airport and Hamilton & Waikato Tourism.

From left to right: Justin Watson, Chief Aeronautical & Commercial Officer for Christchurch Airport, and Jason Dawson, Chief Executive of Hamilton & Waikato Tourism.

The partnership between Hamilton & Waikato Tourism and Christchurch Airport is being launched today (Wednesday 15 May), with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at the TRENZ Conference in Rotorua, the country’s largest travel and trade event. The partnership will see Christchurch Airport’s South Alibaba programme extend into the Mighty Waikato region.

Key to helping Waikato businesses being more successful in the Chinese market is the adoption of Alipay.  Alipay is a Chinese smartphone app that has more than 900-million active users. It’s used to pay for everything from street food to luxury merchandise around the world.  It was used by 150-million Chinese international travellers last year and is a valuable marketing tool for businesses. 

Christchurch Airport is leading a project to assist New Zealand businesses to become Alipay merchants, making it easier for them to reach and do business with the record numbers of Chinese visitors coming to New Zealand.

Christchurch Airport’s Alibaba programme also includes the launch of a flagship store on Alibaba’s online travel agency, Fliggy.  As part of the partnership between Christchurch Airport and Hamilton & Waikato Tourism, this flagship store will be extended to include Hamilton and Waikato tourism operators.

Hamilton & Waikato Tourism CEO Jason Dawson says Christchurch Airport’s Alibaba programme offers a great opportunity to the region.

“China is currently our third largest international market and we know our Chinese visitors love our iconic attractions such as HobbitonTM Movie Set, Waitomo Caves and Hamilton Gardens.  Through our partnership with Christchurch Airport we will be able to better market our region to these visitors, making it as easy as possible for them to extend their stay and experience more of what the Mighty Waikato region has to offer.

“Travellers today are using multiple channels when making their travel decisions.  Christchurch Airport’s Alipay programme allows us to get into an influential platform for the Chinese market, letting them know the Mighty Waikato is open for business,” says Jason.

Christchurch Airport’s Programme Director of the Alibaba project Ken Freer says having the Waikato region join the Alibaba project is an example of the significant momentum that the programme is gathering around the country.

“The growing interest in Alipay means the tourism experience we can offer Chinese visitors is increasingly more seamless, targeted and connected.  It’s an example of how we are working together with regional partners to grow tourism across New Zealand, especially in the high value free independent traveller market,” says Ken Freer.

The Airport’s Alipay programme was launched in 2017 and since then more than 3,600 businesses have signed on as Alipay merchants through the programme, with more joining every day.

Ken says businesses shouldn’t underestimate the power of Alipay.

“The Chinese use Alipay more than credit cards. Because they trust it and know how it works, our Chinese guests are more likely to spend with a Kiwi business that offers Alipay than one that doesn’t. Better still, being on Alipay lets Kiwi businesses talk and do business with these visitors before, during and after their holiday here.”

Christchurch Airport signed a world-first partnership agreement with Alipay’s parent company, Alibaba Group, in April 2017. The Alipay rollout is the first initiative to result from that agreement, the second saw the launch of a South Island based travel store on Alibaba’s online travel agency Fliggy. 

Ken Freer says the partnership initiatives are designed to both grow the Kiwi economy and improve the experience that Chinese visitors have when they come to New Zealand.

“This is about using the power of the internet to make it easier for New Zealand businesses, of all sizes, to do business internationally. The potential is enormous and we are incredibly proud to be creating this opportunity for our place in the world.”