Shortly after the announcement of tourism "saviour" China Eastern's plan to begin limited service to Cairns in November, tour packagers from Shanghai, Beijing, as well as Australian-based Chinese wholesalers arrived in Cairns to put deals in place for the Cairns packages that they plan to sell with China Eastern.
And their first night at dinner, as they compared notes, they discovered the big problem that must be overcome in order to get Chinese tourists to embrace the destination.
And when this issue was first discussed with their TTNQ minders, they were told they were crazy. But as the tour packages began to explain what the Chinese tourists expect when they travel, TTNQ management recognised they have a serious issue with which to contend. And which could strangle the Chinese market before it begins.
CAIRNS DOESN'T HAVE ENOUGH HOTELS.
CAIRNS DOESN'T HAVE ENOUGH HOTELS!
Hotels are NOT apartment unit blocks on holiday letting. The Chinese tour bookers rejected out-of-hand Harbour Lights, Jack & Newell (TripAdvisor's #1 Pick), Aquarius, Waters Edge, Mantra. THESE ARE NOT HOTELS. The Chinese expect that a hotel is a "full service" establishment, with restaurants, daily laundry, and room service. They in fact see holiday let apartments as "low class" accommodation - who would expect a tourist in a foreign country to cook their own food in a kitchen at a hotel???
One tour booker, told that Palm Cove was a world-class beach resort, scoffed and said "No good. No hotels." She then pulled out a brochure from Guam, showing a dozen high-rise, full service hotels directly on the beach. Many will remember that the Grand Mercure in Palm Cove used to be a Novotel/Marriott hotel that was always chock-a-block. There are now no "hotels" in Palm Cove, as far as the Chinese are concerned.
While of course the Shangri-La, Hilton, Holiday Inn, and a few others were deemed acceptable, there is the additional problem of no acceptable mid-range accommodation. The Chinese were shocked to be taken to places on Sheridan Street that were proffered as quality midpriced hotels.
This is a major cultural faux pas that has the potential to derail the Chinese from Cairns. Especially as Guam is gearing up for large numbers of Chinese traveling visa-free, and they already seem to have a handle on what's required.
This analysis of Chinese tourism would seem to not have been read by staff at TTNQ.