Port Campbell’s Chinese New Year welcome

Published on 08 February 2018

Port-Campbell-Great-Ocean-Road-053A2102_preview.jpg

Friday 16 February is Chinese New Year and Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre staff will be out to make Chinese visitors welcome during their most significant cultural festival.

Parks Victoria figures showed a record daily peak of 11,000 national and international visitors made the trip to the Twelve Apostles during Chinese New Year celebrations last year.

Of the 2.6 million visitors to the Twelve Apostles each year, contributing $1.2 billion to the local region, one in seven comes from China.

Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre Coordinator Mark Cuthell said VIC staff would aim to ensure the region met visitors’ expectations as they welcomed in the Year of the Dog.

“We hang decorations along with a lot of local businesses and also have a mobile happy new year sign that we take around. We set that up on the beach and base ourselves there as a mobile information service.

“We make use of our fully translated website, visit12apostles.com.au, on an iPad to support visitors as required and as a means to show people they’ve got language support in the area.

“We’re not about fireworks and the pop and sizzle that they will see in Melbourne. It’s the simple things that are our point of difference. Throwing a Frisbee or playing cricket on the beach is an exotic novelty for someone who lives in a highly urbanised environment.”

A recent photo shoot commissioned by the Visitor Information Centre and Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism aims to showcase Port Campbell’s ordinary/extraordinary lives through the eyes of a Chinese Visitor.

“We want their stay to be as enjoyable and trouble free as possible.”

Mr Cuthell said VIC staff used some basic greetings in Chinese — “Happy new year and things like that,” — to welcome visitors who might be reluctant to ask for help.

“It breaks the ice and helps the visitor relax and start to communicate,” he said.

“It shows we’ve made an effort and respect that they’ve come a long way to a region that has very few Chinese speakers.

“Parks Victoria has two Mandarin-speaking rangers. It’s great to have them around for advice and to assist in case visitors require more support.”

VIC staff also use smartphones and translation apps.

“Communication using a smartphone held between ourselves and a visitor is becoming more common. We can use ours but if a visitor presents an app they’re comfortable with, we go with that.”