Yao Chen is a Chinese actress (China’s equivalent to Angelina Jolie according to The Telegraph) and as far as Forbes Magazine are concerned, the 82nd most powerful woman in the world. Yao was in Davos last month at the World Economic Forum in her capacity as UNHCR Ambassador in China, however, it was her work as an Ambassador for Tourism NZ that helped put Queenstown front and centre for Chinese brides to be.
When Yao married her second husband a couple of years ago, it was naturally a big deal for her, her husband to be, her now 80 million Sina Weibo followers and in this case, the city of Queenstown. And in a country even the size of China, having more than 5% of the population following your every move on social media is a big deal.
At the time of her wedding, the star was the third most followed person on social media globally, behind only Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber. And, according to the NZ Herald, her wedding in Queenstown was featured on 2.4 million websites in China and mentioned in 110,000 Sina Weibo conversations, after Yao herself posted pictures of her nuptials to the social network.
Given that China is now New Zealand’s second largest source of overseas visitors, behind only Australia, with almost 1.2 million Chinese visiting each year, an annualised increase of more than 30%, and with New Zealand’s tourism business equating to $7.3 billion or over 3.5% of total GDP, tourism is big business. And so is travelling to get hitched.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs in China recognised about 13 million marriages in 2015 equating to an average of a more than 54,000 marriages every day or basically the population of Rotorua – the 10th largest City in New Zealand.
If Queenstown can attract just a few more Chinese brides to hold their nuptials in the South Island, it could certainly swell the local coffers.