Weiler, B & Chen, HY 2014, 'Beyond shopping and gambling: re-imagining Australian cities as settings for memorable nature-based experiences', Proceedings of the 5th International Tourism Studies Association Conference: Tourism, Cities and the Environment in the Asian Century, Perth, WA, 26-28 November.
The desire for a quality nature-based experience is a key driver for Chinese to visit Australia. The inbound holiday travel market from China has been dominated by package tourists, whose travel expectations and experiences have been investigated, analysed and reported by numerous academic and government researchers. Typically, their travel occurs within temporally and spatially limited itineraries, constrained by factors including the supply chain, aviation policy and practices, on-ground costs and tour guiding services. The travel patterns of the growing independent travel market from China have been much less researched, although both markets appear to share many of the same constraints, motivations, expectations and perceptions of Australia as a destination. When Chinese select a holiday destination, “world class beauty and natural environment” is consistently ranked in the top five, along with good food, wine and cuisine, and safety. Understanding what constitutes a beautiful and natural environment provides important clues about new and modified travel experiences that can be developed for the Chinese market. Informed by the perceptions, interests and constraints faced by Chinese travellers, this paper explores city travel experiences, focusing particularly on diversifying and deepening opportunities for nature-based experiences in cities. A number of elements are identified as key to successfully marketing and delivering nature-based experiences in cities, and these are examined in relation to both package tourists and independent tourists. To re-image and reposition Australian cities as settings for memorable nature-based experiences, a continuum of nature-based experiences in urban environments that can realistically be developed are presented. Key requirements and potential experiences along the continuum are outlined.