Tasmania's tourism rides on Asian visitor expansion

VISITING: Tourists Jane Xu, Joe Yan and daughter Joanne Yan, 9, of China, visit the Cataract Gorge in flood. Picture: File
VISITING: Tourists Jane Xu, Joe Yan and daughter Joanne Yan, 9, of China, visit the Cataract Gorge in flood. Picture: File

The head of Tasmania’s Tourism Industry Council is “bullish” about the state’s future after a report predicts the number of Chinese visitors to Australia will triple by 2026.

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said the state’s operators had adjusted to the Chinese visitor market since popularity increased several years ago.

His comments come after a report released this week by the Australia China Business Council found the number of Chinese visitors to Australia will triple by 2026, from 1.3 million last year to 3.3 million.

Hobart – the only documented Tasmanian city in the report – saw the number of Chinese visitors expand from 4000 in 2011 to 14,000 in 2016 – growth of 26 per cent.

“The numbers have stabilised the last couple of years,” he said. 

The business council’s prediction of a three-fold increase in Asian tourists would see about 90,000 Asian tourists to Tasmania.

“It will be interesting to see how this plays out for us,” Mr Martin said. 

“I’m pretty bullish about our industry’s capacity.”

Mr Martin said the boost in international visitors, largely from the Asian market, had occurred several years ago.

“Our market has responded and there is now a group of products and operators that are really seizing the opportunities,” he said.

“We have some great operations – we’ve got some investment happening geared to the China market.”

Mr Martin said Asian visitors stayed longer in Tasmanian than other parts of the country.

Bobbie the lavender bear.

Bobbie the lavender bear.

The report cited the explosion in popularity of Bobbie the lavender bear from Bridestowe Estate north of Launceston.

In mid-2013 Chinese model, Zhang Xinyu, posted a photo of herself on social media with the purple bear Bridestowe Estate and boasted about its possible health benefits. 

Within one year, 65,000 visitors flocked to the estate and interest has remained strong since.

Australia China Business Council national president John Brumby said it “would be a mistake to take this projected growth for granted”.

“There are many countries competing for the Chinese tourist dollar. Australia needs to make sure that it is offering what Chinese travellers want,” he said.