Sovereign Hill is strengthening its efforts to attract Asian visitors to the museum at a time when tourism operators are facing new challenges in capturing a changing Chinese market.
The Sovereign Hill Museums Association announced Leisure and Tourism Solutions (LATS) as Sovereign Hill’s new representation in Greater China and South East Asia last week.
The appointment comes as tourism marketing in China is changing to adapt to the growing number of free independent travelers and the decline of Chinese tourists on large group bus tours.
LATS sales and marketing manager for the Greater China region Fan Yang said there was ‘big potential’ to attract high yielding independent travelers from China to Sovereign Hill.
He said marketing through social media, user generated platforms like the Chinese version of TripAdvisor and online travel agents was important to attract millennials who had the time, language skills and desire to travel independently and experience ‘something different’.
When you do online surveys on travel searches, Chinese people search for Melbourne, which means we have to brand and market Sovereign Hill under the Melbourne tag.Fan Yang, Leisure and Tourism Solutions
“When you do online surveys on travel searches, Chinese people search for Melbourne, which means we have to brand and market Sovereign Hill under the Melbourne tag,” he said.
Of the 8.4 million tourists who came to Australia in the year ending September 2018, 1.3 million were Chinese, according to Tourism Research Australia data released last week.
But figures show attracting visitors to stay overnight in regional areas remains a challenge, with a drop in the overall number of nights stayed.
Mr Fan said working with car rental companies and promoting Sovereign Hill as a two day experience along with other experiences in the Ballarat region would help encourage Chinese visitors to stay overnight.
He said it was important to note outside factors that could impact Chinese visitor numbers to Sovereign Hill, including direct flights from China to Melbourne, accommodation prices and other countries that might be marketing better in China.
“We need to brand more to compete with other countries to attract visitation. Thailand, South Korea and Japan are ranked in top three for independent travelers who go overseas from China, while Australia is not in the top 10,” he said.
Sovereign Hill director of marketing Jennifer Gankse said while China had been one of the strongest performing international markets for Sovereign Hill during the past 20 years, India was an emerging market for the museum with a growing middle class that is keen to travel.
Sovereign Hill was the first Australian tourism attraction to open an office in China in 2012.