China visitor surge caution

Tourists paddling their way through Coles Bay.
Tourists paddling their way through Coles Bay.

TASMANIA'S tourism industry has downplayed a surge in Chinese visitors to the state.

The latest visitor survey results, released yesterday, showed visitor numbers were up 14 per cent compared with the previous year.

Premier Will Hodgman, who is also Tourism Minister, was talking up a 50 per cent increase in Chinese visitors, pledging government support to help the industry prepare to cater for increasing numbers from Asia.

"We do need to understand that what's worked traditionally in Australia and western culture doesn't always resonate with Asian visitors," Mr Hodgman said yesterday.

"We need to embrace what is obviously an increasing market share of Chinese tourists and be ready for what could be an even more significant increase if, for example, we're able to secure a visit from the President of China later this year, which still remains a distinct possibility."

However, Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin urged the government not to get carried away by the figures.

Of the 1.06 million people that came to the state in the 12 months to March, almost 19,000 were from China.

"We need to keep our eye on the main game which is not China," Mr Martin said.

"We shouldn't go down the path of every bed and breakfast in the state being able to cook a Chinese breakfast because in reality it's 2 per cent of the market."

Tourism Tasmania highlighted double-digit growth in visitors to the North and North-West.

Mr Martin attributed the recovery in the regions to more Australians holidaying within the country rather than cheap holidays overseas.

"Overseas holidays were all the rage but people are now looking for quality rather than just flop on the beach-style holidays," Mr Martin said.

Visitors are also travelling in Tasmania longer, spending an extra one million nights in the state.

They also spent a total of $1 billion during the 12 months to March, up 29 per cent on the previous 12 months.


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