Chinese show interest in region
AT THE end of what many see as a dark year for the Whitsunday economy, the Chinese have arrived bringing rays of economic light.
A Chinese delegation led by Consulate General Dr Sun Dali was in the Whitsundays yesterday speaking favourably of the opportunities ahead.
Tourism Whitsundays chief executive Peter O'Reilly took the delegation on a helicopter flight for an aerial perspective of the region's key industry and tourism projects including the Whitsunday Islands and Abbott Point.
Mr O'Reilly said the Chinese market was an important one to build on, with Queensland experiencing a 25 per cent increase in Chinese visitation over the past 12 months.
"We're now seeing the first of our Chinese visitors. It's a very exciting time for us," he said.
Mr O'Reilly also took the delegation to the Whisper Bay development, which he described as "the first real Chinese investment in the region".
"And it's even more exciting because they're actively marketing to the Chinese," he said. On the subject of marketing, Dr Sun Dali launched Tourism Whitsundays' brand new destination website, which is based in China and has a Chinese URL.
Mr O'Reilly said the new site was a vital step in TW's Chinese marketing strategy "and compliments our Chinese International Product Manual as well as media and trade relations activities in China".
"The Chinese website is modelled on Tourism Whitsundays' new English site with cutting edge features like an interactive map, full search and bookability of Whitsundays accommodation and tours, video content and customised information on sailing, diving and weddings," he said.
Dr Sun Dali said he was very glad to have visited the Whitsundays, describing the region as "a fantastic area" for Chinese visitors to stay.
"We have sunshine, white clouds, beautiful beaches and forest and most importantly we have so many Australian friends," Dr Sun Dali said.
"I believe in the next 10 years there will be more and more Chinese people travelling to the WhitsundayMackay region," he said.
"I think our future is bright."
Mayor Mike Brunker said visits like yesterday's were all about building relationships "to secure us in the future".
"The sister relationship we've got with Yantai (The Whitsunday/Mackay region's twin province in China) has (already) led to investment in Mackay with future potential for the Whitsundays as well," Cr Brunker said.