Rolling out the welcome mat for Chinese visitors

Updated: 2013-01-10 10:24

By Ou Shuyi (China Daily)

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Mandarin-speaking guides, signage and brochures with Chinese translation, and meals of dumplings and congee are just some examples how tourism operators in Australia's Queensland are gearing up for the influx of Chinese tourists.

The hospitality providers are working hard to cater to the demand of the growing Chinese interest in Queensland as a tourist destination.

These are the kinds of services that will improve a Chinese visitor's experience and encourage them to come again as well as send a good message back home, says Violet Tian, China marketing coordinator at Tourism and Events Queensland.

While many of Queensland's traditional markets out of Europe continue to shrink, "Chinese tourists are developing a love affair with Queensland and are now our second largest international market (after New Zealand)", says Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey.

In 2012, 248,000 Chinese tourists visited Queensland - a jump of 24 percent from 2011, according to Tian.

China Eastern Airlines launched a new direct flight from Shanghai to Cairns, an international gateway to Queensland's tropics, in late 2012, which Stuckey considered as "a sign of commitment and faith in the market".

The tourism minister believes the new flights will bring thousands of Chinese holidaymakers to visit Queensland annually, injecting millions of additional dollars into the local economy.

Chinese tourists come to the coastal city of Cairns to enjoy two World Heritage sites side by side, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree rainforest - one of the world's oldest rainforests.

Hot Air Gold Coast & Cairns marketing director Billy Zou says 12 years of marketing in China has paid off. "Ballooning is rated by Chinese visitors as the No 2 thing to do in Cairns, second only to a visit to the Great Barrier Reef."

Zou says the company has employed Mandarin-speaking staff for many years.

Chinese visitors to Cairns are getting more adventurous and more than 10,000 Chinese visitors experienced the daily hot-air balloon rides in Cairns in 2012.

Zou's company is not the only one taking Chinese tourists seriously.

Paronella Park, an 80-year-old Spanish castle about 90 minutes' drive from Cairns, is becoming popular with the younger Chinese market, due in part to the Canto-pop Twins' music video shot in the park.

"They loved Paronella Park, because it's a fantasy world that captures the imagination," says park owner Mark Evans.

Evans now employs Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking tour guides to meet the demand.

While welcoming a group of Chinese journalists with a meal of dumplings, Evans proudly says, "We're China-ready now."

Rolling out the welcome mat for Chinese visitors

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