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New China tourism drive will benefit agents and airlines

April 28, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

With tourism from China to Australia soaring as never before, an Australia-wide campaign was launched yesterday in Sydney to boost travel in the other direction, harnessing the appeal of pandas, koalas and other attractions to lure more Aussies to China.

A fleet of 10 giant panda-themed campervans is set to begin an epic journey, circumnavigating the Australian mainland to promote China as a tourist destination.

Over 11 weeks, the fleet of “pandavans” will cover more 30,000 kilometres around the Australian coastline from North Queensland to Darwin and inland from Adelaide, past Alice Springs, across Central Australia and through outback Far North Queensland to Townsville.

Doltone House business development manager Julie Pilkington

With more air services being added between China and Australia, it makes sense to have a balanced flow of visitors between the two countries. Airlines will benefit and the promotions and special deals involved will work for agents too.

A major initiative will see 1000 Australian tourists hosted at an official welcoming ceremony in the ancient Chinese capital of Xi’an on 14 September 2017. Tour groups comprising 1000 Australians will converge on Xi’an where a special Tang Dynasty Grand Ceremony will be staged exclusively for the Australian visitors. In the past, such ceremonies have been reserved exclusively for senior visiting dignitaries and world leaders, including former US President Bill Clinton and India’s current Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Giant panda draws attention outside Doltone House

The Xi’an tour is being organised by the China National Tourist Office with nine Australia-based tour operators. Seven are from Sydney: Wendy Wu Tours, Helen Wong Tours, China Best Tours, China Travel Service (Australia), Insider Journeys, Scenic Tours and LaCity Travel. Two are from Melbourne: Trvman Tours and PTT Travel.

At the launch yesterday in Sydney’s Doltone House, opposite the Star Casino in Pyrmont, Zhi Yang, China’s minister counsellor (culture), said about 1.2 Chinese travelled to Australia in the most recent year and about 700,000 Australians visited China.

Koala and Panda mates in China Australia Year of Tourism

“We welcome more Australian friends to visit China,” he said.

Luo Weijian, director of the China National Tourist Office, said the Pandavan initiative was “a first for China Tourism anywhere in the world”.

“Giant pandas are national treasures of China and also a symbol of friendship.”

Panda Express launch- Tony South and, in the driving seat, Luo Weijian

The Panda Explorer Trek was launched by Luo, Tourism Australia chairman Tony South and leading China-Australia tourism stakeholders including the general managers of key Chinese airlines, Air China, China Eastern, Hainan Airlines and Xiamen Airlines, along with major tour operators.

The trek is being staged as part of the 2017 China-Australia Year of Tourism (CAYOT2017), a year-long promotion of tourism cooperation between Australia and China, which will involve joint initiatives by both governments to strengthen tourism exchange and cooperation.

At hundreds of stops along the way, the Panda Explorers will act as travelling information booths to spread the message of China and its many wonders, as well as handing out panda-themed giveaways. Along the route, the Panda Explorers will capture images and video from around Australia to be uploaded across multiple Chinese online and social media platforms.

Panda Express launch, with (from left) Luo Weijian, Zhi Yang and Tony South

Luo said: “Our media partners in China will offer great exposure to Australia. In total we expect well over one hundred million Chinese people to see images and read great stories from the Panda Explorer Trek.”

South said that China was Australia’s most important overseas market, helping underpin Australia’s 2020 tourism goal. For every AUD 5 spent in Australia by international tourists, AUD 1 was from Chinese visitors, South said.

Pandavan ready to roll

The koala and panda partnership on the logo works well because wildlife is the most important reason Chinese tourists come to Australia.

Yesterday’s venue, Doltone House, is highly attuned to the China market and has been catering to it for years, its business development manager, Julie Pilkington, said.

Written by Peter Needham

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