South-west businesses have started an intensive course to learn how to make the most of the fast-growing Chinese market.
The first full-day workshop kicked off the China Host Program at Warrnambool’s Deakin University campus on Wednesday. It will see 15 businesses from across the region take part in workshops and activities that will help take Chinese tourism in the region to the next level. The program will include one-on-one mentoring, advanced marketing support, identification and analysis of world-class case studies and an introduction to popular Chinese social media platform WeChat.
It will also include workshops outlining simple measures that all businesses can take to encourage patronage by Chinese visitors.
The council successfully secured $150,000 from the state government to run the Australian-first business mentoring program. Businesses, experiences and providers that are delegates for the program include 12 Apostles Helicopters, Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum/Surfside Holiday Park, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, Tower Hill Visitor Centre (Worn Gundidj), Deep Blue Hotel and Hot Springs, Gardens Caravan Park/Moyne Shire Council, Live Wire Park, Alkina Lodge, Timboon Ice Creamery, Great Ocean Road Resort, Apollo Bay Bakery, Southern Ocean Mariculture, Cape Otway Lightstation and Lady Bay Resort.
Worn Gundidj tourism manager Terry O’Keefe said Tower Hill had a fast-growing influx of Chinese visitors.
“We are getting more and more and we need to know how to engage with them,” he said. “We are learning about the expectations of Chinese tourists and what they want. 40 per cent of our visitors come from overseas, with an increasing number from China.”
Mr O’Keefe said Tower Hill offered visitors an opportunity to experience Australian wildlife and to see aboriginal culture and history entwined with a natural experience.
“We want Tower Hill to be the destination in the state to get that experience,” he said.
“We are doing a lot of work to make the visitor experience more comfortable.”
Australian Tourism Export Council managing director Peter Shelley said the program would give delegates the capability to positively expand their businesses.
He said things such as having a menu translated to Chinese, using QR codes, or having ‘Instagrammable’ attractions for tourists to share could help.