Victorian regional centres are missing out on the Chinese tourist boom.
Binary Blue China Connect recently toured the Alpine Valleys (including Beechworth, Mytleford and Bright) to discover its capacity and offering for the Chinese tourist.
It's a gorgeous and historical area with a wonderful array of attractions, from vineyards, bicycle riding (the Mountain to Murray rail trail) to fabulous scenery (particularly in Autumn).
Beechworth radiates history. It is a highly preserved Victorian village, bearing an authenticity without being tainted by a deliberate tourist overlay. There are a numerous attractions, including the Ned Kelly Vault (in the original Beechworth Gaol), historical sites and tours, captivating stores including the Beechworth Honey store and activity centre, and music festivals. Beechworth's connection to China cannot be overlooked given that during the 1850s gold rush some 7000 Chinese worked and lived there (with a vestigial mass cemetery to prove it). Their treatment was appalling, but that's another story. This social history is preserved in photographs and relics at the charming Hotel Nicholas and by hotelier / storyteller, Lorraine Lucas.
Bright is all action - with bike riding, canoeing, swimming, wine tasting, skiing (in winter) and picknicing by the Ovens river. Very family oriented.
Despite these attractions, very few Chinese tourists visit. Why? The region does not promote itself actively to this community and competes with other Victorian tourist destinations, including the Great Ocean Road, Ballarat (Sovereign Hill) and now, Sea Lake! There is no Chinese social media activity, which seems an obvious promotion channel. And finally, like many Victorian centres, little is done to welcome the Chinese tourist into their amenity - signs, brochures and websites in Chinese, which would demonstrate a deeper understanding of the modern Chinese tourist.