Katherine MacGregor

Programme Manager, China New Zealand Year of Tourism, Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

China New Zealand Year of Tourism 2019 – when a quiet programme of events becomes headline news


The China New Zealand Year of Tourism was meant to be a diplomatic initiative that encouraged community events and the tourism industry to up-skill itself on China business capability. On very little budget, it was well planned, with good stakeholder engagement around New Zealand but was relatively under the radar.

At the start of 2019, this took a dramatic turn after its opening ceremony was rescheduled by China. The New Zealand programme managers found themselves managing some challenging relationships and headlines that connected this event to Canada’s arrest of a Huawei executive, an Air New Zealand plane turning itself around on the way to Shanghai and a whole host of geopolitical conclusions and assumptions in the media.

The New Zealand tourism industry also found itself with decreasing numbers of visitors from China due to the China-US trade war and wider economic issues.

This is the story about how we navigated the challenges of the China New Zealand Year of Tourism and turned it into a programme of huge success, and a Chinese side that left the year with a lasting positive impression of New Zealand’s manaakitanga.

About The Speaker

Katherine is MBIE’s programme manager for the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism 2019, a year-long initiative of events throughout New Zealand and China. Her talk will highlight how she turned around a tricky start to the Year to one to celebrate.