As the result of a gold rush in the mid-19th century, Melbourne became the commercial center of Australia and at one time was one of the world's wealthiest cities.
Vestiges of that prosperity can be seen in its excellent infrastructure and old housing estates found throughout the suburbs.
Today, Melbourne has reasserted its identity as a food, fashion and sporting mecca. The city plays host to the Australian Grand Prix, the Australian Open, and numerous music and art festivals every year, events that offer thousands of visitors, both local and foreign, a unique Australian experience.
Melbourne remains a popular destination among Asian tourists, who do not have to travel across several time zones regardless of how long the flight. The nearby city also provides a feel of faraway Europe and offers a safe environment with a high level of livability.
The capital of the state of Victoria, it is a major draw for international tourists due to its appeal as a vibrant, sophisticated and eventful city. One characteristic particularly enjoyed by international visitors is its proximity to nature attractions around the city.
Spectacular Philip Island is home to the popular 'penguin experience'.
A national icon, the Great Ocean Road, offers a fabulous coastal journey with interesting and unique coastal villages and stunning scenery along the way.
While most of Australia's tourism destinations market themselves using the country's landscape and natural beauty, Melbourne highlights its rich cultural diversity, seen clearly in the wide variety of ethnic food including Italian, Vietnamese, and Cantonese cuisines.
Because of its mining history, Melbourne claims the country's oldest Chinatown, where the first wave of Chinese immigrants settled in the mid-1850s.
'Because of the gold rush there are strong links with southern Chinese. They are part and parcel of Australian heritage. The history of the Chinese experience is very much written up in the history of the country,' said Gregory Hywood, CEO of Tourism Victoria.
Determined to establish a long-term relationship with the Chinese, Tourism Victoria was the first Australian tourist organization to set up operations in China in 1999.
(China Daily August 7, 2008)