Playing Catch Up: Case Study: Southern Grampians Shire


Southern Grampians Shire in Western Victoria is hoping to build on its existing sister-city relationship with Gaoyou City in Jiangsu Province to facilitate greater Chinese tourist numbers to the region, writes Sophie Loras.

Currently, the shire is facilitating business opportunities through this relationship in the areas of education (through a unique partnership between the Hamilton and Alexandra College and Gaoyou Middle School), agriculture (with increasing Chinese interests in land holdings and meat production), forestry and water engineering and waste management expertise.
Attracting Chinese tourists to the region is the next step, however Hugh Koch, Manager for Economic Development and Tourism with the Southern Grampians Shire Council, recognizes the region has some way to go in order to better facilitate this select group. This would be through stronger Chinese language and culture awareness with tourism and hospitality service providers in the region and better infrastructure to support the current Chinese preferences of group travel.
Currently the Grampians region receives some Chinese tourists off the back of the Grampians tourist route, which incorporates a three-day trip from Melbourne to Geelong, Port Fairy, Dunkeld, the Grampians National Park, Halls Gap and Ballarat.
“For the Chinese, Ballarat and Sovereign Hill are very popular, and we try to leverage of that,” says Mr Koch.
The region hopes to profit from Chinese tourists’ love of the great outdoors. The area boasts one of Australia’s most diverse flora types ranging from subalpine forest, shrub woodlands, heathlands and swamps to spectacular views from the Grampians many peaks. Outdoor activities include bush walking, hiking, rock climbing and abseiling at a range of levels, to cycling and mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking and fishing and camping.
The region has an array of accommodation options from five star resorts, traditional guesthouses and camping facilities.
Wildlife includes kangaroos, koalas, bandicoots, emus, possums, wedge-tailed eagles and reptiles.
Mr Koch says feedback from Hong Kong and Singaporean tourists is encouraging.
“The feedback we receive are the same comments, “ says Mr Koch. “They tell us our stars are so clear here. These are the things we often take for granted but for those visitors, that moment will be one they treasure forever.” 
*Pictured above: The Grampians, Victoria, Courtesy Tourism Australia

To read more about Chinese tourism to Australia, click here.


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