DELEGATES from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan have visited the Swan Valley while in Perth for Ni Hao WA 2018.
A Tourism WA spokeswoman said 55 Ni Hao delegates were travelling in three groups to destinations around the state including some of the best that Perth and the Swan Valley have to offer.
She said the visitors to Western Australia had visited The Vines Resort, Mandoon Estate and Sandalford Wines and enjoyed wine and fresh local produce including honey provided by the City of Swan and delicacies from The Margaret River Chocolate Company.
“They have also visited the Caversham Wildlife Park and interacted with the park’s koalas,’’ she said.
Mr Papalia said Ni Hao (Chinese for ‘hello’) WA, now in its fifth year, was the biggest to date with a record number of buyers including 25 from China, nine from Hong Kong and four from Taiwan, as well as Chinese trade media.
“Welcoming visitors from across Greater China is one of Tourism WA’s top priorities – as these visitors make a significant contribution to the state’s economy through visitor spending,’’ he said.
As well as wine, chocolate and honey tastings in the Swan Valley Ni Hao delegates took part in a wild seafood experience in Mandurah, a trip to the beautiful Hutt Lagoon – or Pink Lake ¬ in Geraldton and a look through Nature’s Window in Kalbarri National Park.
The Ni Hao event is hosted by the state government, through Tourism WA and includes workshops, business meetings and familiarisation tours of WA’s regions to ensure visiting agents get a first-hand experience of what the state has to offer.
Mr Papalia said in a few short years, China had emerged as a key priority market for WA with the number of Chinese visiting the state, rising to 58,600 in the year ending December 2017, a 14.2 per cent increase on the previous year.
“China has become WA’s highest source of international visitor spending, contributing $291 million to the economy in the year ending December 2017, a 15.5 per cent increase on the previous year.
“Leisure visitors, in particular, spent $102m while in WA, representing an increase of 25.1 per cent from 2016.
“Hong Kong remains an important source market with more than 24,000 visitors contributing $83m to the economy – up 9.2 per cent from the previous year.’’
Sandalford Wines chief executive officer Grant Brinklow said winning gold in the tourism wineries, distilleries and breweries category at the 2018 Australian Tourism Awards recently had impressed the Ni Hao delegates who visited the winery.
Mr Brinklow said the Chinese were reward focused so they were impressed by Sandalford Wines being the first winery in WA to be China Ready & Accredited® in 2014.
The Ni Hao delegates enjoyed a wine tasting at the winery before staying for lunch.
The winery employs native speakers and the menus are translated making it easy for Chinese tourists who visit the winery.
He said while tourism businesses wanted to keep their own points of difference he encouraged Swan Valley businesses to follow the winery’s lead.
Between 180,000 and 200,000 Chinese could visit WA by 2025.
By Anita McInnes