Travel: Snap shot Chinese Tourism


Transport and language barriers are the biggest gripes of Chinese tourists to Australia, writes Sophie Loras.

China is fast moving up the ladder as a top source of tourists to Australia, but the country still has some way to go to improve on China specific services. While Australia attracts tourists from China for its clean air, pristine coastline and wild natural beauty, Chinese tourists say more tourism and travel information in Chinese would go a long way.
*Zhang Ying’s favourite place in Australia? “…The Great Barrier Reef, no doubt,” she says. (pictured left)

Zhang Ying, a graphic designer from Shanghai, visited Australia for the country’s pristine natural scenery. While in Australia she enjoyed the beautiful coastline and marine life of Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef, to trekking in the Tasmanian wilderness. She combined her accommodation options between staying with friends at their homes in Melbourne and Sydney and then more touristy options with boats and hostels in Queensland and Tasmania.
The nicest parts about staying with friends, she says, were local recommendations to cafes and restaurants on the street, and shopping in the supermarket.
Most of her trip was self-arranged travel, except for a one-day tour of the Great Ocean Road and a five-day boat & driving tour on the Great Barrier Reef.
“I just loved Australia’s natural resources,” Zhang Ying says of the trip.
“Australia is a travel paradise for those who love land and water.”
Highlights included the New Year fireworks in Sydney. Having seen them several times on television, it was a very different experience to be there watching them live.
“Though the waiting time was long and the performance was short, it was absolutely stunning to watch the fireworks in person,” says Zhang Ying. “And also, the natural shape of the harbour, made the fireworks geographically more beautiful.”
A big fan of diving, another highlight for Zhang Ying were the fish and coral of the Great barrier reef.
Then there was the “outstanding sunlight and natural landscape of Tasmania.”
“If there was a chance again in the future, I’d love to go hiking more in Tasmania’s wilderness.”
In Melbourne, the highlights were the National Gallery of Victoria – one of the best museums Zhang Ying visited in Australia and the city’s famous Botanic Gardens.
“The Botanic Gardens were a well thought out display, with many flowers and plants from around the world making this place the first choice for all those who love plants and flowers.”
Renting a bicycle in Melbourne made travel very convenient and fun.
Transport was the biggest issue for Zhang Ying during her travels to Australia. Given the large distances between scenic spots, most sightseeing required personal vehicles or tourist buses. “Not every tourist can drive, and the road system is different, and that made driving in Australia a very inconvenient aspect to the trip,” she says.
Zhang Ying still thinks Australia has a way to go in receiving Chinese tourists.
“Some stores and restaurants had Chinese staff, but for self travelers, accessing information and transportation information at bus and train stations was limited for Chinese speakers.”
Her advice to travel service providers is to recruit more Chinese speaking staff, especially at tourism information centres. 

travel_jie_mis_family_in_sydney_1_thumb*(Pictured left) Mi Shufang and Zhang Lianzeng in Sydney.

Beijingers, Mi Shufang and her husband Zhang Lianzeng were recently in Australia visiting their daughter who is living and working in Sydney.
Highlights for the couple were Australia’s blue sky and garden-like cities.
“It feels like being in a flower forest while walking on the street!”
Mi Shufang also loved Surfer’s Paradise, which to her, “reflected the freedom of being in the sea.”
“The soft sand on the beach warmed our hearts while sea gulls were singing. Shining stars and the lights from cruises and boats blended into one background picture,” says Mi Shufang.
Like many Chinese tourists visiting Australia, Mi Shufang and Zhang Lianzeng
enjoyed visiting heritage listed scenic spots and museums.
“We loved to go to old places, heritage spots and antique stores,” says Mi Shufang. “We disliked being in the city shopping with the crowds.”
During their stay in Australia, Mi Shufang and her husband stayed in a serviced apartment in Sydney and enjoyed supermarket shopping, and then, usually cooking for themselves in the apartment.
Living expenses were more expensive than expected, and more Chinese information in the tourism/travel brochure would not go astray but, says Mi Shufang, travelling in Australia generally was OK.
“We used body language when necessary. Aussies are quite friendly,” she recounts. “There was one time when we were lost on the way from the Opera House to home, luckily, a kind and patient girl at the train station directed us the right way and we were very grateful.”
Was Australia what they were expecting?
“No, not as expected,” says Mi Shufeng, “It was better! The sky is bluer, prettier and the air is fresher.” 
travel_lu_nan_and_puffing_billy_thumb*Puffing Billy was a highlight of Lu Nan’s time in Melbourne. (Pictured left)
Through her work with the Tianjin Chamber of Commerce, Lu Nan spent three months at the end of 2010 on an exchange with the Australia China Business Council in Melbourne.
During that time, the Tianjin local visited numerous Australian cities, including Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Hobart and Launceston and parts of Tasmania and Victoria.
“For me, when travelling, the language is the most important thing – so people speaking Chinese is a benefit,” says Lu Nan.
“For me, being able to speak English was very important,” she says.
Lu Nan is an avid traveler and tries to avoid group travel when on holiday because of the restrictions with what you can and can’t see. Her trip to Australia was based on research in the Lonely Planet and then follow up investigation on the Internet and through travel agencies in Australia.
“For me, travelling to Australia was easy, but for many other Chinese, they may use an agency,” she says.
In Melbourne, Lu Nan used Evergreen Travel Agency and also other smaller agencies to help her visit other cities in Australia. Anywhere small or close to Melbourne, she felt she could arrange herself.
“The visitor centres gave great introductions and so we just found what we liked and we went.”
Highlights outside of Victoria included Tasmania – Hobart, Cradle Mountain, Launceston. “For me, the thing I loved the most was the nature.”
She also visited Brisbane with work and used her personal time to visit the city’s excellent galleries and museums. Despite allergies, Lu Nan also loved the Gold Coast with its beaches and beautiful sunshine.
“Sydney was an interesting city, but just OK,” she says. “It was so noisy! We had friends in Sydney and we visited the harbour, the Botanic Gardens, Darling Harbour and the Opera House. I just didn’t think Sydney was as good as Melbourne – Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens and its museums… are very good!”
“I really liked Victoria’s small towns, the zoo, Lake Mountain and Puffing Billy.
Everyone was so friendly. The train was really interesting… everyone sitting by the windows like little children! At the station there were so many families, celebrating children’s birthdays. It was just very peaceful and quiet. So beautiful to just take a picnic and sit by the lake with all the children playing.” 
*To read more about Chinese tourism to Australia, click here.


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