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Spectacular China promotion in Strangers’ Dining Room

March 29, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The oddly named Strangers’ Dining Room in NSW Parliament House in Sydney’s Macquarie Street turned into a festival of Chinese photography and tourism on Tuesday night as China World Heritage Tourism, Beijing Tourism and Shandong Province Tourism came to town.

The word “stranger” – as used in Strangers’ Dining Room – is a peculiar old term meaning visitor or guest. The tourism industry certainly doesn’t call visitors “strangers”, but parliaments based on British lines do. They run dining establishments modelled on the original Strangers’ Dining Room in Britain’s House of Commons, so-called because the room is used by MPs to meet their guests and these visitors are traditionally referred to as “Strangers”.

In these plush and opulent surroundings – full of portraits of distinguished, bearded men from NSW political history – guests at Tuesday’s “Beautiful China – World Heritage” promotion in NSW Parliament House learned that tourism between China and Australia is booming. Greater heights are forecast for travel in both directions.

Chinese tourism delegation graces NSW Parliament House near the Strangers’ Dining Room

The promotion included a photography exhibition and lucky prize draws giving away trips to China. Speakers included Wang Fang, Deputy Consul-General of the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Sydney; Luo Weijian, Director of the Office of National Tourism Administration in Sydney; and Damien Tudehope, Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly and Member for Epping – who told guests that 10% of his electorate was Chinese.

Some 120 guests included representatives from Destination New South Wales, Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development and the Tourism Development Committee of Shandong Province. Australian outbound travel agents, airlines and media attended as well.

Peter Needham in Strangers’ Dining Room with Beijing delegates

Director of the Office of the National Tourism Administration in Sydney, Luo Weijian, commented on the rapid increase in tourism exchanges between Australia and China following the successful 2017 China-Australia Tourism Year. Australia has 19 world heritage sites and China has 52, he pointed out, and there is much interest in visiting them.

Shilin, Yunnan, China: Stone forest, a set of Karst Limestone rock formations. Part of the UNESCO South China Karst World Heritage Site.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show travel between Australia and China is healthy in both directions, with roughly 1.4 million Chinese visiting Australia in 2017 and about 537,100 Australian visitors heading in the other direction.

Deputy Consul General of the Chinese Consulate General in Sydney, Wang Fang, said China and Australia shared extensive common interests. She said China’s new “Belt and Road” initiative had created a new platform for international cooperation which would provide a historic opportunity for win-win cooperation with all countries, including Australia. China’s Belt and Road initiative is a policy of China’s President, Xi Jinping, aimed at improving China’s “connectivity” with the rest of the world.

Guests stroll photography exhibition of China World Heritage landmarks

Damien Tudehope, Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly and Member for Epping, said that each year more than 700,000 Chinese tourists visit New South Wales, spending over AUD 3 billion. About one in five of them visited Sydney Opera House.

Tourism expert Marcus Reubenstein shared some of his photographs. His 18 visits to China have taken him to eight of China’s world heritage sites.

NSW MP Damien Tudehope addresses guests

Guests enjoyed a Chinese traditional folk music performance by students from the Confucius institute. Lucky draw prizes included Sydney-Beijing round-trip air tickets provided by Air China; Sydney-Jinan round-trip air tickets provided by Tourism Development Committee of Shandong Province; and a three-day tour to Beijing world heritage sites from CTS MICE Service.

Written by Peter Needham

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