IMPORTANT WEEK: Fish D'Vine and the Rum Bar co-owner Kev Collins with the Chinese flag the restaurant has been flying to welcome tourists to the region during Golden Week.
IMPORTANT WEEK: Fish D'Vine and the Rum Bar co-owner Kev Collins with the Chinese flag the restaurant has been flying to welcome tourists to the region during Golden Week. Monique Preston

Whitsundays experiences Golden time

THE Chinese Golden Week holidays last week provided one of the third busiest times of the year for at least one Airlie Beach business.

Fish D'vine and the Rum Bar co-owner Kev Collins was proactive with trying to attract Chinese tourists last week during the Chinese holiday, putting up a Chinese flag alongside the Australian and Fish D'Vine flags on the restaurant roof.

"They're very important customers for us and the Whitsunday region," he said.

"It (flying the flag during the busy time) is a way of saying 'hey, you're important to us.

"As soon as we put up the flag, Chinese people stopped to take photos."

Mr Collins said his restaurant had about 1000 Chinese customers during Golden Week which ran from October 1 to 7.

However, he said there would still be large numbers of Chinese visitors in the Whitsundays this week.

Fish D'vine employed some Mandarin speaking staff during this period because of how busy they expected to be.

"It has become one of the busiest weeks in the entire year (for us)," Mr Collins said.

For his business - which has focused on trying to attract the Chinese market - Golden Week now ranks up with the Christmas and New Year and Airlie Beach Festival of Music time periods for the number of customers.

"This time of year used to be very quiet," Mr Collins said.

"It (Golden Week) has turned a shoulder month into a great month."

The Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce also acknowledged the importance of Chinese tourism, putting up a sign partly in Mandarin on Shute Harbour Rd between Cannonvale and Airlie Beach, welcoming Chinese visitors to the area during Golden Week.

Chamber president Allan Milostic said Golden Week was becoming an important time for attracting tourists to the Whitsundays.

"There were certainly solid numbers (of Chinese tourists)," he said.

"It (the sign) is a recognition that Chinese guests are important.

"I think if you spoke to the tour operators, it's the Chinese that have got them through (in recent years)."

Mr Milostic said Golden Week was a market that was growing in attracting tourists to the Whitsundays, and he felt, with the weather at this time of year, it was one which would combat the dropping Chinese visitor numbers at Chinese New Year.

Tourism Whitsundays chief executive officer Tash Wheeler also agreed Chinese visitors during Golden Week provided a boost for the area.

"Golden Week is a huge national holiday in China and one of their peak travel periods. It was great to hear operators and restaurants throughout town feeling the positive effects of this week," she said.

"China is one of the Whitsundays' key international markets, their travel here provides a great boost for the local economy."


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