Jacaranda Festival hotspot for Asian tourists
TAKING the Jacaranda Festival to the world is working and the evidence is the influx of Asian tourists arriving in Grafton from late October as the purple blossoms arrive.
Jacaranda Festival coordinator Donna Hunt said the festival committee and Clarence Valley Council included a plan to promote the festival overseas in a Business Improvement Plan for the festival.
"It's one of the things we're working on," Ms Hunt said.
"We're talking with Destinations NSW about including Jacaranda in its overseas marketing."
Ms Hunt said the festival scored a major coup last year when Hong Kong's U Magazine featured the region in a multi-page spread on the festival and other attractions.
The Daily Examiner journalist Lesley Apps hosted the visiting team and produced a feature article of her own from her experience.
Ms Hunt said the influx of tourists is bringing benefits to the entire Valley.
"The accommodation houses are booked out in Grafton so people are booking at place in Yamba, Maclean and Wooli," she said.
Ms Hunt said relatively sudden influx of tourists had highlighted some shortcoming as well with many tourists arriving by train with no idea how to find their destinations.
"Moving forward we're thinking a shuttle bus between the railway station and accommodation and the main sites like See Park, Turf St and Market Square would be a good idea," she said.
The council's economic development officer Liz Fairweather said the council began survey the Asian visitors this year, with specially made survey forms produced in five languages.
She said council's staff were distributing the forms twice a day and talking to the visitors.
Ms Fairweather said this face to face contact was producing some useful information.
"Anecdotally we're finding a lot of visitors are university students from Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast," she said.
"They come on the train or some even drive here for the day.
"For them the attraction is the floral spectacular beauty of the trees blooming at once. That's what's important to them."
Ms Fairweather said the council was promoting "word of mouth" on advertising social media and the use of the council's hashtags #myclarencevalley and #owneverymoment.
"We're finding they're using an app called WeChat, which seems to be a Chinese version of Snapchat," she said.
"We're encouraging the use of our hashtags. We're thinking it might be good to erect some temporary signage with our hashtags on them."
Planning is already beginning for next year.
"We've done a photoshoot with some models and children with the jacarandas to market to the Asian community," she said.
"We're also working on a time-lapse project with jacarandas.
"Every day we have a photographer go to the same place and take a photo of Jacarandas, which we will turn into a short movie of the trees going through the seasons."