Wednesday, 15 August 2012

State backs $9m bid to attract Chinese tourists

The State Government has thrown its financial support behind an unprecedented full-throttle push to attract more Chinese tourists.

A $9 million marketing agreement was signed between tourism and airline officials in Guangzhou yesterday, with nearly half to be spent on the promotion of WA.

Tourism WA has contributed $1 million to the strategy, which will see WA's "extraordinary experiences" promoted online, on billboards and in hotel lobbies and in-flight literature throughout China.

WA attracts 24,000 Chinese tourists a year and is looking to quadruple that figure by 2020.

Tourism Minister Kim Hames also wants to increase WA's share of Chinese who come to Australia - currently it is only 4.5 per cent.

Tourism WA chief executive Stephanie Buckland said the agreement would also see Tourism Australia contribute $1 million and China Southern Airlines - which began direct flights between Perth and Guangzhou in November last year - contributing $2 million.

"This money will be spent specifically on WA, showing the Chinese exactly what we can offer them as a holiday destination," Ms Buckland said after the ceremony yesterday.

Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said the agreement also involved Destination NSW and Tourism Victoria and was a concerted move by Australian tourism industry to speak with "one voice" when marketing itself internationally.

He said China Southern's deepening ties with Tourism Australia and its state tourism partners would further raise awareness among China's growing middle classes of Australia.

The airline's president, Tan Wangeng, said it would also expand into Cairns this year - its fifth Australian destination.

He said the airline was pleased with the number of people booking direct flights between Perth and Guangzhou, with a growing number of Perth travellers using it as a stepping stone to Europe.

He said it was possible the current service would expand beyond three flights per week.

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