China set to join forces with the Whitsundays
THE Honourable Consul-General of the People's Republic of China, Dr Zhao Yongchen, touched down in the Whitsundays for the first time this week.
His visit on Tuesday was part of a bid to boost tourism and extend the Chinese market to the region.
Joined by Consul Jiang and Consul Wang, Dr Zhao took part in a formal meeting with Whitsunday Regional Council, where opportunities to increase international assets and open passenger and freight opportunities with China were discussed.
Dr Zhao said he was impressed by the ecological preservation in the region, which was pleasant for residents, property development and holidaying.
"As you can see, there is a growing number of Chinese middle class families and around 500 million people belong to that group," he said.
"Chinese people have made 120 million outbound travels and if you (in the Whitsundays) can attract only 10% of all the outbound travels by Chinese, that's nearly 12 million (people)."
Mayor Andrew Willcox said our dams, infrastructure, better facilities and the expansion of the airports were some of the major topics discussed.
"We have a lot of opportunities in the Whitsundays and we look forward to working with the Chinese Consul-General, FullShare, and all the people who have shown interest in our region already," he said.
"We believe that there's going to be a lot more interest in our region because after all, it's beautiful."
Dr Zhao and his entourage got to experience some of the famous Whitsunday hospitality at a morning tea hosted by FullShare and Mirage Whitsundays, which also gave councillors and tourism operators the chance to network with the high profile entities.
Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said it was fantastic to have someone from another region with the vision and the capacity to make our built assets greater.
"With the China market and the potential that exists there, having a partnership with those within the market is going to help us get leverage and increase visitation and yield for our region," he said.
Dr Zhao said he looked forward to an increased presence and more Chinese investments in tourism and holiday spend in our region.
"It is my hope that better facilities and accommodation and business climates can be created for the potential Chinese investment," he said.
"My wish is that you can go to China looking for partners, your counterparts and your peers for business opportunities.
"I'm sure that you will be immersed in very special Chinese traditions and culture and also you will find yourself among many opportunities."