Chinese community calls for heritage trail and visitor centre
AS tour operators prepare to welcome an influx of tourists from China, the local Chinese community is exploring the potential for heritage tourism in the region to capitalise on the arrivals.
With trial direct flights from Shanghai starting in October and from Guangzhuo in December, visitors are expected to be drawn by the lure of the world famous Reef.
However members the region’s Chinese community believe strong heritage links to the Far North will also appeal.
Cairns and District Chinese Association Inc Heritage Coordinator Mary Lowe said a proposed cultural centre at their block of land on Arthur St at Edge Hill will link visitors to original settlers.
“It would be great for tourists to learn about the history, to better understand the places and see they played a big part in developing this city,” she said.
A private CADCAI collection of Chinese artefacts from the prominent Lit Sung Goong temple that was demolished on Grafton St in 1964 will also be housed at the centre for public view, though construction of the centre is dependant on funding at this stage.
When asked about the feasibilty of a Chinese heritage trail for tourists, which would encompass significant sites across the Far North, project manager for the Hou Wang Temple Restoration at Atherton Gordon Grimwade said he believes it would be a successful drawcard.
“Some tourists I know have found their own way to Hou Wang and said they didn’t realise there was such a strong connection,” he said.
“I believe we should be pushing the association between the Chinese history in the Far North and Chinese visitors.”
Atherton’s Hou Wang Temple, built in 1903, is one of the only remaining examples of Chinese temple built at that time across Australia, New Zealand and North America.
Cairns tourism leaders say they recognise the potential for history based Chinese tours, but believe it will take time to develop the market.
Tourism Tropical North Queesland CEO Rob Giason said Chinese tourists take multi destination holidays in Australia, limiting their time in each place.
“The key first up attractions are the Great Barrier Reef, our lifestyle, tropical climate and wildlife. More itineraries will be developed as we grow the demand,” he said.
Down Under Tours co-owner James Dixon agreed.
“If they have three days, do a visit to the Reef and a day of touring, time will be limited initially,” he said.
China Eastern flights will arrive from October 31 this year, while China Southern will begin their trial on December 1.