While the tourism industry celebrates a milestone in one million Chinese tourists coming to Australia in the year to November 2015, the changing market will mean Ballarat operators will need to offer more options for overnight and day visitors.
Melbourne and Sydney hotels are already promoting China-focused service, including Chinese dishes on menus, Chinese newspapers on other media and overall staff training on cultural differences.
Ballarat Regional Tourism chairman Serena Eldridge said as the visitors move away from group travel and towards longer trips to the region, accommodation providers in particular would do well do brush up on their mandarin.
“(China-sensitive service) is increasingly what we’re seeing, in the handful of operators in Ballarat in the international market. The ones that are seeing them need their staff to be aware of international issues,” she said.
“For businesses that play in that inbound market, they need to have the training, in cultural awareness.”
Ms Eldridge gave the example of the increasing number of families coming to visit international students at Federation University.
Sovereign Hill has worked hard for years to bring Chinese visitors to Ballarat.
Director of marketing Garry Burns said to capitalise on Ballarat’s position within two hours of Melbourne operators would have to make sure they were welcoming of Chinese visitors.
“Hotels in the region would need to improve their delivery options for that market,” he said.
He also said Sovereign Hill was working on improving the number of tourists staying overnight by making Ballarat part of the Great Ocean Road trip.
“We’re working with Great Ocean Road region, to work in conjunction to get stay the night in Ballarat. Stay overnight in Ballarat and then head down to the Great Ocean Road,” he said.
Tourism Australia has welcomed shifting industry attitudes.
Managing director John O'Sullivan told Fairfax Media the marketing group had gone to significant lengths to research the preferences and behaviour of the target consumers.
"The good news is that the industry is really starting to embrace this incredible opportunity by developing experiences which better meet the needs of the many Chinese visitors now flocking to our country," he said.
Mr Burns said Ballarat operators would need to work together to give visitors enough reason to stay more than a day.
“The industry needs to work closer to package up products for the Chinese market,” he said.
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