04 December 2008
Chinese trail in NZ tipped to make the big bucks
The New Zealand government has agreed to fund a project in Otago that will establish a Chinese heritage gold-mining trail. The project is tipped to not only provide a unique insight to the history of New Zealand but also attract the booming tourist market from China.
Dunedin historian and Chinese authority Dr Jim Ng is spearheading the project, which he says will highlight the significance of Chinese settlers in the early days of Otago.
"The aim is to prove the feasibility of establishing a heritage trail that will make Otago the premier attraction in New Zealand for a rapidly growing Chinese tourism market," Dr Ng said.
Experts predict the Chinese tourism market is ready to boom, and Dr Ng believes the trail is the perfect tool to attract it to New Zealand.
George Hickton, chief executive of Tourism New Zealand, agrees the project would provide a unique opportunity to educate visitors to New Zealand.
"China is an important tourist market for us and I am sure the link with their home country will be of huge interest to Chinese travellers, as it will be for all visitors looking for authentic New Zealand experiences," he said.
Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin is also looking forward to the roll-on effects of the new project for Dunedin.
"The history of Chinese people in New Zealand emanated through Dunedin and Central Otago. One reason the Shanghai authorities were so supportive of Dunedin and gave so much help to creating the city's Chinese Garden was the feelings they got from being taken through Central Otago and realising how those early Chinese miners lived. This is a hugely worthwhile project," he said.
The trail would use relics such as huts, workings, cemeteries, lonely graves, and other similar artefacts to paint a picture of the significance of the Chinese settlement in the early stages of New Zealand's development.
As China is not part of the New Zealand visa waiver program, Chinese tourists to New Zealand need to apply for a New Zealand Visitor's Visa in order to holiday in the country. Holders of the multiple-entry New Zealand visa can stay in the country for a maximum of 9 months of an 18-month period, provided they do not study or conduct business in the country for longer than three months or participate in sporting or cultural events for pay.
The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their New Zealand visa application.
Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.