DIRECT flights from a major Chinese city to Perth will start next year as part of a $1 million trial to boost WA tourism and lobster industry.
China Eastern Airlines will operate three flights a week for five weeks between Shanghai and China starting from January 15 until February 17.
The trial, to be conducted over the peak Chinese New Year season, is a partnership between State government’s Tourism WA, Perth Airport and Tourism Australia.
An extra $1 million was allocated by Tourism WA this year for collaborative campaigns to build awareness of WA in Shanghai.
The Airbus A330s involved for the trial will offer 3480 seats from Shanghai to Perth.
According to the International Visitor Survey, the number of Chinese visitors coming to WA increased by 12.4 per cent to 64,400 in the year ending March 2019.
In addition to bringing more Chinese visitors to the State, the flights also provide a direct freight route for fresh WA produce.
It would be expected the underbelly of the plane will be filled with 15,000kg of rock lobster per flight to be sold in mainland China.
Tourism WA will work with Tourism Australia and China Eastern to market the non-stop flights to Shanghai, and drive ticket sales in China.
Marketing will include collaborative travel partnerships and media partnerships throughout the second half of 2019.
Premier Mark McGowan said securing the trial hasn’t been an easy feat.
“We led a comprehensive delegation in 2017 and followed up with numerous meetings because we wanted to show China Eastern we were taking this seriously and we were on a mission to secure these direct flights.
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the top three experiences booked by Chinese tourists includes seafood cruises, wildlife encounters with quokkas on Rottnest Island and Hutt Lagoo or Pink Lake.
China Eastern is the seventh biggest airline in the world and has never flown direct to Perth.