Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle Wins Major Chinese Tourism Award
A family owned Abel Tasman water taxi company has beaten some of the worlds largest tourism operators to win a prestigious Chinese tourism award. Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle was presented overnight with a Service Quality award (Silver) at the China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market in Beijing – China’s leading outbound travel exhibition. The Chinese Tourists Welcoming Awards (CTW) recognises companies that go the extra mile to accommodate Chinese travelers and meet their specific requirements. Previous award winners include United Airlines, Avis Rent A Car and the Seychelles Tourism Board
Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle co-owner Keith Knapp says he is thrilled the work the company has put in to attract Chinese tourists has been acknowledged.
“It is a real thrill to see our little company up there with the likes of United Airlines and Avis. Chinese tourists still make up a small percentage of our business but we noticed a huge increase at the end of the summer season and have put a lot of effort into preparing for the predicted influx,” he says.
China is New Zealand’s fastest growing market for international visitors. This week Prime Minister John Key, who is currently heading a trade delegation in China, predicted the number of Chinese tourists would grow fivefold over the next five years to one million visitors annually.
Zane Smith from tourism marketing company Vation Ltd accepted the award in Beijing on behalf of Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle.
“Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle should be very proud as the award recognises the company’s strong values, integrity and great service. Within minutes of winning I was being approached by Chinese outbound tour companies so the win will have a positive impact on business,” he says.
“I have worked in the tourism industry for 21 years and have never seen a new market emerge so quickly. Even in the last year the dynamics of the Chinese market has changed, we are now seeing wealthier, more educated and well-travelled Chinese coming to New Zealand. There is huge opportunity for tourism businesses especially as the Chinese also travel in our shoulder and winter seasons”.
Vation Ltd undertook Chinese specific marketing for Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle. Staff engaged in customer service training learning about specific requirements to deal with this new market, including Chinese culture & history, behavioural nuances and basic language skills. Marketing information such as brochures, the website and even promotional videos were translated into Chinese.
“When the Chinese do arrive they are absolutely amazed that we have gone to so much trouble. We have noticed they are becoming more adventurous so for us it is about attracting Chinese visitors to the Abel Tasman and making it easy for them,” says Keith Knapp.
Dr Wolfgang Arlt from the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) says from 2013 China will be the largest outbound tourism market in the world, spending more than $100 billion US on travel. “The vast increase is due to the social changes taking place within China today, everyone is looking to China to be the next big thing in tourism, and it’s very, very real!,” he says.
Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle is a family owned water taxi company that operates from picturesque Kaiteriteri Beach near Motueka. The company runs four ferries in the Abel Tasman National Park.