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While the reopening of its borders to international tourism remains uncertain, the Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) is sparing no effort in engaging the travel trade in Greater China during this downtime.

Apart from updating trade partners on product and destination knowledge, it also identified business opportunities and assisted both Queensland industry and Chinese travel trade partners wherever possible.

TEQ hosted its annual Greater China Industry luncheon on November 30, drawing about 111 trade representatives from Greater China, Hong Kong and Taiwan

In fact, TEQ’s office in Greater China has recently developed an idea to promote and sell consumer goods to generate small but critical revenue for both Queensland tourism operators and travel trade partners in the Greater China region. Dubbed Project Perk Up, a range of Queensland products were introduced and distributed via Chinese travel trade staff to consumers during the lockdown period. To date, 13 key travel trade partners in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan have generated more than A$64,000 (US$47,100) in retail revenue from the project.

Moreover, TEQ has conducted a series of livestream programmes with different themes, aimed at delivering Queensland destination information and experiences to help support trade partners in China. As of November 11, a total of 18 livestream sessions have been held to 6,441 participants, with total viewership of 14,594. Similar travel trade training programmes have also been and will continue to be delivered in Hong Kong and Taiwan, through both online and offline methods.

TEQ CEO Leanne Coddington told TTG Asia: “TEQ has worked closely with our key partner, Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ), to connect Queensland operators and suppliers with Hong Kong trade and media partners to source and introduce Queensland products to consumers, ensuring that consumers are able to still get a taste of Queensland whilst they are unable to visit.

“We see great potential in developing e-commerce opportunities in Hong Kong. As a result of our partnership with TIQ, there are increasing numbers of Queensland products now being sold in Hong Kong such as wagyu beef from Kur-Cow Barnwell Farm, Bundaberg ginger beer, lobster tail, scallop, King prawns, heath products, chocolates, eggs and vegetables.”

Last Monday (November 30), the government agency organised its annual Greater China Industry luncheon in a hybrid format, drawing about 111 trade representatives from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Taiwan (99 from mainland China, three from Hong Kong and nine from Taiwan).

Speaking remotely from Queensland, Coddington cited a ‘test’ project with Ctrip featuring top Queensland hotels and airline deals that has generated over 1,000 leads for air ticket and hotel vouchers in less than a month. Additionally, the agency has also rolled out Queensland Moments, a WeChat activity inviting partners to share their past vacation photos taken in Queensland, to trigger happy holiday memories of the Australian state.

She said: “TEQ has been keeping its finger on the pulse of its key international markets. We have been adapting to the ever-changing climate this year, and working to inspire our trade partners, stakeholders, media and consumers through aspirational content and engaging events. Our current strategies in Hong Kong and China are simple and straightforward: keep the industry engaged and to position Queensland at the top of trade partners’ and consumers’ minds when they are considering their next international holiday once Australia’s borders reopen.”

TEQ group executive – global marketing, Michael Branagh, opined that although international travellers are unable to visit Queensland for now, the agency is working to understand them better and exploring innovative ways to continue engaging with them.

He said: “Our team in Greater China has developed projects such as Q Style and Beautiful Reconnection, which are UGC (user-generated content) campaigns, aiming to keep Queensland top of consumers’ minds via key opinion leaders. We believe that the businesses which have the strongest understanding of their consumers, and their future wants and needs, will be in the best position to compete in what will be an incredibly crowded market, as global travel rebounds.

“With the support of Tourism Australia, we are working with Ctrip and Trip.com to deliver a campaign, targeting the Australian-based Chinese community. We know this community is important to our tourism recovery, represents a large and valuable target segment, travels frequently, and is a key influencer for travel decisions made by visiting friends and relatives.”

During the event, a slew of TEQ stakeholders gave an online update on their latest happenings. For instance, Tourism Whitsundays CEO, Tash Wheeler, unveiled new developments in the region, including Reefsuites by Cruise Whitsundays boasting Australia’s first underwater accommodation, InterContinental Hayman Island Resort which opened in late 2019, and the newly refurbished Coral Sea Resort at Airlie Beach Day. As well, Juliet Alabaster, general manager of business and major events at Brisbane Economic Development Agency, shared new itineraries and products to excite Chinese visitors, such as a camel ride and camel farm experience.