Chinese visitors have helped to bolster Australia’s tourism numbers according to new data released by Tourism Research Australia this week.
Of the 8.4 million tourists who came to Australia in the year ending September 2018, Chinese visitors abounded with more than 1.3 million Chinese visitors touring the nation, spending $11.5 billion and staying 57.6 million nights here.
More than three million visitors flocked to Victoria last year and spent more than $8.3 billion.
Regional Australia is benefiting from this growth as tourism operators continue to target the Asian market.
Jennifer Ganske, Director of Marketing at Sovereign Hill, said it had been targeting the Chinese market for more than 20 years. The company recently awarded a tender to a new company, Leisure and Tourism Solutions (LATS), to build on and further develop Chinese relations.
“Sovereign Hill has stayed committed to building and further developing Chinese relations,” she said. “We have been running a cutting edge program with Chinese speaking guides on the ground for two decades.”
The open air museum also has a major program which celebrates Chinese digging during the gold rush, a Chinese camp and digital displays in Chinese.
“We are definitely seeing advantages of regional dispersal [of tourism]. It comes down to consumers getting smarter,” she said. “Consumers are chasing more bespoke offerings. Everybody knows Australia has marsupials and beaches but consumers have moved beyond that and want an experience that tells an Australian story.”
Ms Ganske said the Chinese market was interesting as it was evolving so quickly.
The data suggests more travellers, including domestic travellers, were heading to regional Australia for a holiday but Ms Ganske says this could be misleading as the data also encompasses international students.
But the challenge is drawing tourists to the regions and encouraging them to stay overnight. Figures have grown in regional Australia, with visitations up to 2.8 million, but the amount of nights spent fell to 49.6 million.
George Josevski, Director of LATS, said Sovereign Hill would be showcasing new products in coming months, while building relationships and ensuring the tourist attraction continues to be number one on everybody’s list of attractions to visit.
LATS has an office in Ballarat, Melbourne and is currently engaging representation in China. It works with tourism operators, travel agencies and uses Chinese social media to increase awareness of what it has to offer, including of Sovereign Hill.
He said engaging people to say overnight was a priority.
“It is important regional Victoria gets visitations overnight and we will continue to encourage awareness of accommodation here.”