The Hunter is missing out on the Chinese tourism boom

Tourism: Newcastle’s Bogey Hole.THE regionis missing out on a share of the$3.2 billionChinese tourism boom in NSW due to a lack of public infrastructure and mobile connectivity, the Hunter Business Chamber says.

A new report, released by theNSW Business Chamber’s tourism division, has highlighted the challenges holding regional businesses back in attracting the 1.4 million Chinese visitors who come to each year.

The lack of reliable, timely and cost-effective transport infrastructure, unavailability of high-speed broadband, and the absenceof mobile connectivity in many regional areas were noted as key barriersin the report.

Bob Hawes, of the Hunter Business Chamber.

Hunter Business Chamber chiefBob Hawessaid Chinese tourists spent a “whopping” $3.2 billion in NSW in 2017, but most of that money was spent in Sydney.

“This correlates with Destination NSW figures which show Chinese tourists love Sydney, whereas only 2.1 per cent visit the Hunter Region,” Mr Hawes said.

“Chinese tourism is the top market for NSW, with double digit annual growth, but we’re not seeing this in the Hunter. Last year 1.4 million visitors to were from mainland China.

Related reading: Next step in Newcastle’s tourist trade “That’s projected to soar to more than 3.3 million Chinese tourists by 2026.”

Mr Hawe said as well as improving public infrastructure and mobile connectivity,the Hunter –with Destination NSW and Tourism – needed to “tune in” to the wholesale networks in China that organise holidays and tours in order to entice the tourists to visit the region.

Related reading: Brewery tourism? We’ll drink to that. “It isnot like we have to go out and cut the pathway ourselves, they are already coming here,” Mr Hawes said.

“But we need to work out whatwe have to do to get them that two hours up the road to spend some of those tourism dollars in the Hunter region. We need to increase the attractions we have up here, and bundle themto get these tourists at first here for a day, and then turn them into overnight visitors, and go from there. Sydney has an enormous gravitational force for them and we’ve got to work with it rather than try to compete against it.”

Gus Maher,general manager of the NewcastleTourismIndustry Group, said it was important to foster strong relationships withbusinessesin China that sell holiday packages to to showcasewhat the Hunter hasto offer. Nationally, regional tourismwould become increasingly importantto encourage visitors to return and explore more of than Sydney and major attractions, he said.

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