Melbourne boasts great events, a passion for food and wine and a fabulous arts scene. Known as a style-setter, Melbourne is home to a non-stop program of festivals, renowned dining, major art exhibitions and musical extravaganzas.
Now with full tourism services and direct flights between Melbourne and Shanghai recently introduced by the joint efforts of Tourism Victoria and Qantas, Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd, the giddy place full of opulent bars, chic art shows and exclusive restaurants is no longer so far away to locals and expats in Shanghai.
Early this month, Qantas announced that it would introduce a new service between Melbourne and Shanghai, offering two flights a week on the route from March 2008, the first time Qantas offers non-stop services between the two cities.
Tourism Victoria and Qantas, together with travel agencies, plan to launch a series of quality tourism products. From next March when the direct flights begin, a tourist from Shanghai can get a Qantas round-trip ticket, two-night hotel accommodation and a half-day city tour at the price of 7,999 yuan (US$1,081).
"Tourism Victoria and Qantas are close business partners, dedicated to improving Sino-Australian tourism development," said Edward Chen, regional director, North Asia, of Tourism Victoria. "The launch of Shanghai-Melbourne non-stop services will have a positive impact and provide a strong boost to Victoria's tourism industry."
In addition, Tourism Victoria issued its beautifully-printed Chinese guidebook - "Fun in Melbourne," a practical pocket book that provides detailed information about things to do, places to visit, restaurants to dine in Melbourne, helping tourists to enjoy an in-depth, independent travel experience around the city.
"If you are lucky enough to win our special prize, we'll offer you a free trip, including free flight tickets," Chen said.
The Melbourne-Shanghai service will use two-class A330 aircraft fitted with the award-winning Qantas Skybed in business class, operating from Shanghai on Mondays and Fridays, with the return services departing Melbourne on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Stephen Farquer, general manager of Qantas Airways Ltd China, said the services were a mark of the airline's strong commitment to growing international services into Victoria.
"These new services present Victoria with a great opportunity, providing the state with a direct connection to the world's fastest growing aviation market, where business and tourism links are expanding rapidly," Farquer said.
China, especially Shanghai with its strong economic growth, has become a buoyant international tourism market with great potential to the regions of Victoria.
"China is a rapidly developing economy with a growing middle class, and the number of Chinese visitors is expected to grow to occupy one-fifth of Victoria's tourism market by 2016," Chen said.
Melbourne and Victoria provide quality tourism products and experiences that clearly meet the Chinese market's demands and this announcement is a real boost for international tourism into the region from the fastest growing economy in the world, officials said.
By the end of this June, Victoria had embraced 146,000 Chinese tourists, an increase of 5.2 percent compared with the same period last year. It accounts for about 45 percent of the total number of Chinese tourists who visited Australia.
Qantas has been steadily developing its China operations since the airline commenced services three years ago with three flights a week to Shanghai.
"From March 2008, we will offer 10 return services a week to China - five between Sydney and Shanghai, our two new Melbourne-Shanghai services, and three between Sydney and Beijing - in addition to offering two codeshare services with China Eastern Airlines," Farquer said.
(Shanghai Daily December 24, 2007)