ECHUCA-MOAMA is tapping deeper into the lucrative Chinese tourist market.
Extragreen, Australia’s largest travel agent for Asian visitors, started its first weekly day tour to the region on Monday.
It comes fresh off the back of Grandcity Tours, another major Chinese operator, starting a day tour in December.
A group of 50 tourists and consultants poured off a bus on Monday and went straight onto the PS Canberra for a one-hour cruise, before enjoying lunch at Wistaria Tea Rooms.
Murray River Paddlesteamers director Craig Burgess, who pitched the tour, said Extragreen’s involvement was a major boon for the region.
‘‘This now means the two largest Chinese travel agents in Australia have weekly day tours into central Victoria and Echuca,’’ he said.
‘‘This is a great result from our investment into the international market to attract big players back to Echuca.’’
It comes as Chinese tourism to Australia continues to skyrocket. More than 1.2 million Chinese travellers landed in Australia last year, second only to New Zealand and a 284 per cent increase from 10 years ago.
Mr Burgess said until now most Chinese visitors to Victoria were travelling to Phillip Island, Sovereign Hill and the Twelve Apostles.
‘‘We have worked very hard to convince these companies there is more to see in Victoria than the coastal areas,’’ he said.
‘‘This is something different. I tell them it (the paddlesteamer) is like Puffing Billy on water.’’
Mr Burgess said more than 400 Chinese visitors had joined the Grandcity tour in less than four months.
‘‘We are working with several leading tour companies to deliver longer-stay experiences that benefit the whole community and again have invested in attending the Australian Tourism Exchange to be held in Sydney this May.
‘‘While we’re there, we will be selling Echuca-Moama to international wholesale companies which last year resulted in Scenic Tours re-commencing a Victorian Explorer Tour in their 2017-18 schedule.
‘‘That will be the first time in a decade Echuca is included (in the tour) as an overnight stay.’’