Campaign will cover 30,000 km in bid to promote ties and attract visitors to China
SYDNEY - A fleet of 10 panda vans were officially launched in Sydney on Thursday to begin their journey around Australia to promote the China-Australia Year of Tourism 2017.
The journey will see the "panda explorer" take groups of Chinese travel ambassadors on a 30,000-kilometer adventure, exploring a variety of cities and towns, including the Outback.
The initiative aims to promote cooperation between the two nations and hopes to bring more Australian visitors to China.
Director of the China National Tourist Office Luo Weijian said the campaign is a "first for China Tourism".
"Of the more than 1 million Chinese visitors to Australia each year, most visit cities and popular destinations but few have the chance to experience life right throughout the continent," Luo said.
"So the panda vans fulfill two roles - taking China to hundreds of towns and also giving Chinese people an insight into the diverse landscapes and cultures of Australia."
Plans are also under way for a special meeting between a koala and giant panda at the Adelaide Zoo in the state of South Australia.
The campaign also hopes to educate more Australians about Chinese culture, by acting as a roving travel information booth and giving out prizes to people encountered during the road trip.
Chairman of Tourism Australia Tony South told Xinhua he hopes those in the vans will become "great advocates of Australia".
"I"d like to think that their aspirations for coming to Australia are satisfied and they can go home happy," South said.
"For anybody, the most powerful thing you can get is a recommendation from a friend. If that happens, then I think we"ve done a good job."
Along the journey, the panda vans will capture video and images across Australia to be shared across Chinese social media.
As for the selection of pandas to be the star of the campaigns, the decision was simple.
"Australians love pandas just as much as Chinese people love koalas," South said.