Over the past few months a number of Eco Lodges of Australia have been participating in China Ready workshops to help with their preparations for the booming Chinese market. These workshops have been designed specifically for ecotourism operators in Australia, looking at what aspects of our natural heritage and way of life appeal to Chinese guests, and how to best utilise these aspects to provide a superior and highly engaging experience for the Chinese traveller.
Funded by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism under the T-QUAL project, this initiative is a partnership between AVANA, Ecotourism Australia and Spirit of China in Shanghai. To date, these workshops have been conducted in QLD, TAS, NSW, VIC and SA, with a handful left in the NT and WA.
Utilising existing research and through information gathered from a number of surveys conducted in both Australia and China, the partnership found that there is a real and growing opportunity for the Australian ecotourism industry in relation to the Chinese market.
This opportunity has only emerged in the past few years and will continue to develop as the Chinese tourism market grows in maturity and begins to search for new and unique tourism product. This fact was also further reinforced during Australian Tourism Exchange in Perth last month, as a number of Chinese agents expressed strong interest the products on show in Ecotourism Australia’s Green Travel Guide.
The workshops were delivered by James Hutchinson from AVANA, and Eric Lau and Lynn Wang from Spirit of China, who flew in from China to deliver these workshops. In the workshops, key staff at each Eco Lodge learnt of the emergence of a more experienced and mature Chinese traveller who is breaking the mould of the traditional ‘tourism with training wheels’.
These tourists are well travelled, having toured throughout US and Europe, and would most likely be travelling in Australia for the second or third time. It is these tourists that are more likely to opt for self-drive tours and unique nature based experiences off the beaten track, and who are presenting the Australian ecotourism industry with a new and exciting market.
The bulk of the training discusses these emerging travellers, looking at their expectations, interests and travel patterns, as well as some simple tips that ecotourism operators can adopt to make their experience more comfortable and engaging.
One of the tips Eric and Lynn emphasised was to create sample itineraries that the Chinese guests could base their day on. This is due to the fact that many Chinese people have little to no experience in nature and are therefore unsure of what they can and cannot do. Therefore, some translated itineraries outlining activities to enjoy, safety precautions and what animals to look out for improves the experience for Chinese guests.
The training also covered the unique aspects of each individual operation and identify the key niche markets that they would be able to attract, such as the wedding market, self drive tours, educational tours or incentive trips. Due to the sheer size of China’s population, these niche markets are generally larger than the entire Australian population.
The next phase of the project is to help the participating Eco Lodges attract Chinese travellers to their business and to also to share the learning outcomes, research and training workshops with the wider ecotourism industry.
For more information or if you are interested in China Ready training for your operation contact James Hutchinson from AVANA at firstname.lastname@example.org.