Postprint of: Weiler, B & Yu, X 2008, 'Case studies of the experiences of Chinese visitors to Three tourist attractions in Victoria Australia', Annals of Leisure Research, vol. 11 no. 1/2, pp. 225-241.
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China is expected to become the largest inbound source market to Australia and many other destinations including Europe, possibly in less than a decade. However, the Chinese government tightly controls outbound travel via a number of mechanisms such as limiting travel to selected destinations through its approved Destination status scheme, predetermining tour itineraries, and requiring travellers to be accompanied by a tour guide for virtually their entire overseas experience. This paper draws on cultural and tourist mediation theory to deconstruct the Chinese visitor experience at three specific tourism attractions in the state of Victoria: sovereign Hill (a recreated historic site located in a regional urban centre), Phillip Island (a nature-based destination), and Royal Botanic Gardens (a metropolitan-based non-commercial attraction). Data collected from multiple sources are used to provide an in-depth analysis of how the visitor's experience is mediated at these three sites. Focusing in particular on 'memorable experiences' as a construct, data collected via a questionnaire-based visitor survey, interviews and on-site observations are used to draw conclusions about the visitor's experience at each of the three sites as well as their collective experience. Generally speaking, the Chinese visitor's spatial and temporal experience is not a particularly good one. Visitors report the most memorable things at the three attractions as mainly related to the cognitive and affective dimensions of the experience and, where the opportunities presented themselves, the encounters with locals. the findings suggest that attention be given not only to providing physical access to spaces and places, but also access to opportunities for understanding, appreciation, and interaction. responsibility for providing access falls largely on the shoulders of the Chinese-speaking tour guides, who serve as the main point of contact between the destination and their Chinese clients. while improvement to itineraries and written communication is important, the findings suggest that for this market, the focus should be on the tour guides who play the key role in mediating the experiences of Chinese visitors at tourism attractions.