In a first for New Zealand, Chinese visitors to Auckland will have up-to-the-minute information about the region at their fingertips through one of the most popular Chinese communications and social platforms WeChat.
Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development and WeChat announced on Tuesday the Auckland WeChat Mini Program kicked off.
New Zealand Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis, ATEED General Manager Destination Steve Armitage and a strong contingent of Chinese and New Zealand media and tourism businesses attended the launch.
"As more and more Chinese tourists choose to travel New Zealand as Free Independent Travellers, the Auckland WeChat Mini Program will become an important platform for connecting these tourists with all that Auckland has to offer," Davis said.
"Considering there are over a billion monthly active users on WeChat/Weixin, this is a great opportunity for Auckland to raise its profile and promote its tourism offerings to the Chinese market."
China is New Zealand's second-largest international visitor market following Australia and most valuable in terms of holiday visitor spend. Between August 2018 and August 2019, more than 41,7000 Chinese visited New Zealand. Last year, Chinese tourists spent a total of 1.07 billion U.S. dollars, according to Tourism New Zealand, the organization responsible for marketing New Zealand to the world as a tourist destination.
The 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism was launched with an aim to strengthen economic and cultural ties between the two countries.
The Auckland WeChat Mini Program provides a community-focused digital solution for Auckland's Chinese-speaking community to share their local knowledge, favourite things to do and experience around the region with their overseas-based families, friends and other locals in China.
The ATEED-developed Mini Program, which was first piloted in February this year in Auckland, is aimed at connecting Chinese locals with visitors in a real time, live chat environment.
In partnership with an Auckland-based software developer, ATEED has developed a world-first solution for visitors, publishing user generated content by locals and visitors that highlights their experiences around the region. This innovative, new approach to destination marketing has garnered the attention and support of WeChat, who see the tool offering great value to Chinese-speaking users world-wide.
Armitage acknowledged the number of Chinese FIT visiting Auckland continues to grow and these visitors are moving away from traditional ways of finding out more about places they want to visit.
"Travellers nowadays want recommendations of what to do and where to go at their fingertips and this mini program allows for that interaction between visitors and locals," he said.
The Auckland WeChat Mini Program aims to strengthen ties with the global Chinese community - both online and offline - ensuring visitors have a unique, personalized and memorable experience in Auckland, and in turn, increasing the length of stay, time spent exploring the region and investment in the local economy.
"We saw an opportunity to offer Chinese visitors a more local and authentic experience, connecting local guides with visitors through a real-time chat function. This new platform aligns with our guiding principle of manaakitanga(hospitality) within the Destination AKL 2025 Strategy, in which we strive to provide our visitors with the best experience of Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) from the moment they are considering their travel until they leave," he added.
WeChat Head of Global Marketing Ma Fengming said, "We are so excited to support Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development leading the way in providing cutting-edge, global tourism solutions for the modern WeChat travellers. The Auckland WeChat Mini Program offers travelers a smart and effective way to engage with an online community - to share and connect with relevant, up-to-date destination content in Auckland.
"This innovative platform reflects the power of partnering technology and authenticated peer-to-peer content - we can't wait to see our WeChat consumers make the most of the Auckland WeChat Mini Program."
Tourism New Zealand's first ever WeChat mini programme, a mini website embedded within Tencent WeChat, was successfully launched in December 2018. This innovative tool provides New Zealand travel planning information to users in a new, efficient way.