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Port Arthur strengthens links with Chinese heritage site


On the back of rapidly growing tourist visitation, cultural links between Tasmania and China are being further strengthened this month as part of an ongoing relationship that started nearly a decade ago.  

A delegation of four senior staff members from the Dunhuang Academy, home of the World Heritage-listed Mogao Grottoes, is visiting the Port Arthur Historic Site. They will observe management practices at Port Arthur, including human resources, marketing, heritage conservation and tourism management processes.

The eleven day visit being hosted by PAHSMA coincides with a Board Meeting providing further interaction between the PAHSMA Board and the Chinese guests.

The Dunhaung Academy representatives will also have opportunity to spend time at the Coal Mines and Cascades Female Factory Historic Sites together with visits to TMAG and Mona and various other tourism related businesses in Southern Tasmania.

The Mogao Grottoes site, located on the ancient Silk Route in Gansu province, consists of nearly 500 caves, many containing elaborate painted sculptures and wall paintings depicting aspects of Buddhist history and legend. The oldest are believed to date back to the fourth century AD.

Chair of the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority, Professor Sharon Sullivan AO, said that the visit provided an opportunity for a valuable cultural exchange.

“The purpose of their visit is partly to observe our management and operational practices, but there will also be benefits to the Port Arthur staff in terms of cultural awareness, with tourism from China to Australia growing as rapidly as it is,” said Professor Sullivan.

More than 12,000 visitors from mainland China have visited the Port Arthur Historic Site since the start of July last year. This compares with around 4,000 last financial year, and is nearly six times the visitation from Port Arthur’s next biggest inbound market, the UK.

This visit builds on a number of previous visits to Port Arthur by staff from the Dunhuang Academy, and several Port Arthur personnel have been able to visit Mogao. The relationship was established by Professor Sullivan, who has been a consultant on conservation projects at Mogao for many years.

 “This relationship has grown and developed as visitation to Australia and especially to Tasmania from China has risen,” said Professor Sullivan.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the relationship and the understanding that has grown up between our personnel, has helped the team at Port Arthur to be on the front foot in terms of providing quality interpretation and visitor service for our increasing numbers of Chinese visitors.”

“Our staff also look forward to showing our guests some true Tasmanian hospitality.”

The delegation will be at Port Arthur until a few days before Easter. They will also visit Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, as well as a range of other cultural sites and activities in southern Tasmania, before returning to China.

The ABC visited recently to meet our guests and find out more about Port Arthur's strong links with China. Chair of the PAHSMA Board, Professor Sharon Sullivan described the context and breadth of the exchange with the Dunhuang Academy delegation.

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Port Arthur strengthens links with Chinese heritage site

Our guests have enjoyed seeing some of the local sights, including including Don and Sue Clark's property 'Cascades' at Koonya (home of some very well-rehearsed cattle).

Port Arthur strengthens links with Chinese heritage site

They also visited William McHenry & Sons Distillery near Port Arthur, where they sampled some of the produce.

Port Arthur strengthens links with Chinese heritage site

The Dunhuang Academy's Cheng Liang is interviewed by the ABC