Tourism purple patch for lavender farm

CHINA has taken over the farm, Bridestowe Lavender Estate owner Robert Ravens said yesterday.

Chinese visitors now account for 80 per cent of visitors to the Nabowla property.

Mr Ravens said a four-year marketing campaign in Asia was starting to pay dividends.

``There has been an incredible surge in interest from Asian tourists,'' he said.

``I suspect this is the start of a tidal wave. We must have a higher ratio of Asian visitors compared to other visitors than any other tourist facility in Tasmania.''

Mr Ravens said the farm's purple lavender and wheat-stuffed teddy bear, Bobbie the Bear, and smaller Baby Bobbie, were extraordinarily popular among Asian tourists.

``It's a mania that defies any logic,'' he said.

Despite the farm no longer counting locals, children or bus tour groups, visitor numbers have surged more than 30 per cent compared with the same time last year.

``We have never seen numbers like this,'' Mr Ravens said.

``We are averaging more than 500 visitors a day. This is a small business - we're not coping very well at all.''

Monday was the biggest turnover day in the farm's history.

``We thought it would quieten down after Christmas, but it got even busier,'' Mr Ravens said.

``We are in meltdown.''

Mr Ravens said Asian visitors loved the low-key experience and natural surrounds.

``They want more than anything to enjoy the simple things like flowers, clean air and scenery that we so often take for granted,'' he said.

Visitor numbers are showing no signs of slowing, with the peak lavender viewing and picking season due to last another six weeks.

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