Tourism Australia becomes China friendly

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By 2020, there will be 100 million Chinese tourists traveling the world and Tourism Australia wants to ensure many of them will be coming here.

The year of the snake begins today and according to the Chinese zodiac, snake years are believed to have the potential to bring great prosperity.

And already, Australia's tourism industry is investing heavily in becoming China friendly.



China's Tourism Minister, Shao Qiwei, says that jump in travelers could arrive even sooner - by 2015.

Mrs Sun Chen, from the city of Guangzhou, is spending the Lunar New Year with her family in Australia.

She's an example of a growing number of Chinese visitors wanting to see the world.

“I did some research on the internet to find out about Australia and also contacted some of my friends and relatives here to ask about what's fun to do” Mrs Chen said.

In November, Chinese visitors rose by 14 per cent.

Tourism Australia wants to double the number of Chinese tourists, making them a $10 billion industry inside a decade.

China Ready and Accredited is a company providing consulting services for businesses seeking to attract Chinese investment.

Chief executive Julia Gong, says the first step to enticing visitors is educating Australian hoteliers in Chinese culture – from customs, to cuisine.

“Of course when they arrive they feel excited they want to try everything new, but after a few days, probably three days or four days they reach the stage of thinking, I feel like something I have in my home town. Especially when they travel, travel is always tiring at the end.” Ms Gong said.

Accor has introduced its own program at 37 hotels to make their service and rooms more familiar to Chinese visitors.

Lorraine Mercuri, from The Novotel in Darling Harbour, says they've implemented a range of changes.

“The green teas, Chinese channels, Chinese newspapers as well. Certainly also on our buffets we have the staple of congee for breakfast” she said.

But Ms Mercuri believes it all starts with the welcome.

And Rui Li, a bi-lingual receptionist at the Novotel, knows her clients well.

“Chinese guests prefer to be on level six and level eight. Level six stands for good luck, level eight stands for wealth. So I try and allocate the room number 666 or 888, or at least have one or two of the numbers six or eight.” Ms Li said.

Last year, Accor hotels, which manage the Novotel chain, recorded an 8.3 per cent increase in Chinese visitors.

Foreign tourists are traveling to Australia in record numbers – a trend tourism Australia is attributing to an increase in flights by budget airlines, cheap airfares and a boost in Australian marking campaigns across Mainland China.

But there's still a way to go, including the breakdown of stereotypes.

“From my perspective, lots of western perception is that Chinese love to come here just to shop and gamble. For me, this is not true.” Mrs Chen said.

She says a lot of people still have a limited understanding of Chinese people and their culture.

An understanding some Australian businesses are trying to change.

Source: SBS

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