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Chinese New Year Visitors Set to Surge in Port Stephens on Back of Huge Growth in Chinese Tourist Numbers

January 24, 2014 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

Chinese visitors on Port Stephens sand dunesChinese tourism to Port Stephens, 2½ hours north of Sydney, is set to surge by at least 20 per cent over the next two weeks for Chinese New Year, on the back of a sharp increase in the number of Chinese visitors to the area over the past two months, with up to 2000 Chinese a week joining dolphin cruises, tasting local wine and sliding down Port Stephens’ giant sand dunes.

The number of Chinese day visitors to Port Stephens has jumped a “mind-boggling” 30 per cent since last November, according to one of the area’s biggest tourism operators, Moonshadow Cruises, but there has also been a spike in the number of Chinese staying overnight in the area following trade missions to China in recent years led by local tourism operators and Destination Port Stephens.Chinese visitors on Port Stephens sand dunes

A record 625,000 Chinese visited Australia last year – a rise of 16 per cent compared to the previous year, making China the second biggest source market for international tourists behind New Zealand, although Chinese spend more on their travels than Kiwis. By 2020, inbound tourism from China is tipped to generate $6 billion in economic value for Australia.

More than 100 million Chinese – or more than four times the population of Australia- are expected to travel overseas this year. Statistics for the NSW mid-North Coast, which includes Port Stephens, show that visitors from China and Hong Kong comprised three per cent of overseas visitors to the region for the year ending September, 2013, up from 1.7 per cent the year before.

“There’s definitely been a constant increase in Chinese tourism to Port Stephens over the past year but the growth over the past two months in particular has been mind blowing with between 1500 and 2000 Chinese visitors a week coming to Port Stephens to enjoy a range of experiences including dolphin cruises and sand-duning,” said the Sales and Business Development Manager for unnamed (13)Moonshadow Cruises and Port Stephens 4WD, Janene Rees. “Over 55 per cent of our business in Port Stephens is now from Asia and the growth from China is driving that.”

Ms Rees said the Chinese New Year on January 31 would generate a 20 per cent boom in Chinese visitors to Port Stephens. “In the past, Chinese visitors have predominantly been daytrippers on group coach tours but we’re now seeing a lot more adventurous, self-drivers staying overnight here,” she said. “We’ve been travelling to China twice a year for the past eight years to build long-term relationships with travel companies there and develop the Chinese market and we’re delighted all that work is now paying dividends.”

The Manager for Aviation Business Development at Newcastle Airport, David Nye, said there had been a marked increase in Chinese tourists at the airport, which is located in the Port Stephens region. “The new wave of Chinese visitors typically drive themselves to the Hunter for one night and Port Stephens for another night before flying from Newcastle Airport to Queensland to continue theirunnamed (14) holiday,” Mr Nye said. “We have also joined recent trade missions to China to promote the airport’s accessibility and we’re now seeing more packages being developed for the Chinese market that use Newcastle Airport as a jumping point for holidays in Australia.”

Destination Port Stephens Marketing Manager, Tars Bylhouwer, who has visited China many times since 1998 to promote the region, said Port Stephens was one of the first regions in NSW to identify China as a lucrative boom market for the area. “China is a very important market for Port Stephens and becoming more so every year, especially with operators like Moonshadow Cruises and Newcastle Airport joining our annual trade missions to China in partnership with Destination NSW and Tourism Australia,” Mr Bylhouwer said. “We pioneered self-drive holidays for the Chinese and we’re now seeing those visitors driving around Port Stephens every week,” he said. “Our next step is to encourage the high-yield Chinese tourist to spend longer than unnamed (15)a night in the region so that’s our focus moving forward.”

Mr Bylhouwer said that while the number of Chinese visiting Australia was still increasing, new laws in China governing low-cost shopping tours had momentarily slowed the rise in recent months. “But a long time ago Port Stephens strategically targeted high-yield markets in China so we expect the effect of these new laws on visitation here to be minimal,” he said.

Ms Rees said the increase in Chinese tourism to Australia and Port Stephens in particular required local tourism operators and also residents to cater for their needs in terms of language, greetings, menus and cultural interests.

A 2½ hour drive north of Sydney, Port Stephens offers dolphin cruises, swims with dolphins, sandboarding and quad biking on Australia’s biggest sand dunes, camel rides on the beach, horseriding, parasailing, diving, koala spotting, kayaking, fishing, fauna parks, wineries, bushwalks, seafood restaurants and a choice of ocean and harbour beaches. For details on accommodation, attractions, tours and events, visit

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