Slow, patchy Wi-Fi is damaging the Gold Coast’s visitor reputation, particularly for its biggest and most lucrative market of Chinese tourists. Chinese visitor numbers are soaring but the cumbersome Wi-Fi is leaving a bad impression. Last year, 242,000 Chinese visited the Gold Coast, outstripping Kiwis by almost 60,000.
Chinese visitors are among the most socially connected and Chinese tourism buyers on the Gold Coast yesterday for the annual Australian Tourism Exchange said they expected fast, free Wi-Fi. Tourism Australia’s China country manager Andy Jiang yesterday told theBulletin first-class Wi-Fi was very important.
“Chinese are extremely social and they see coming to a foreign destination like Australia as a way of showcasing,” Mr Jiang said. “They like to post online straightaway. Chinese consumers don’t have the patience to wait and do it later.”
Mr Jiang said Wi-Fi quality on the Gold Coast was not bad but visitors often had to pay extra but as they were already paying for a hotel room, felt they should be entitled to it free.
“That is really striking a dissonance in their mind,” he said.
Visiting Chinese group bookings specialist Reder Wang told the Bulletinstable, free Wi-Fi was “more important than anything”.
“It is as important as their meals every day because they want to share what they are doing with their friends,” he said. “It’s also very good for a destination – free advertising.”
Gold Coast Tourism chief executive Martin Winter said free Wi-Fi in visitor hubs and transport corridors was critical and something commonplace worldwide.
“That investment is something we must not ignore,” he said. Mr Winter said he was lobbying the Gold Coast City Council to extend free Wi-Fi across city visitor hubs before the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
The good news was the planned redevelopment of Surfers Paradise and Gold Coast Airport visitor information centres would include free Wi-Fi as a Games legacy project, he said. The Bulletin asked for a Wi-Fi update last night from the city council but it was unable to respond by deadline.
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the future of the Gold Coast tourism industry depended on the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and improved Wi-Fi. Visitors slam ‘slow, unstable’ Wi-Fi
THEY love the Gold Coast but not so much the “unstable” Wi-Fi.
Norwegian visitor Jonas Jahr, 21, and Canadian friend Angie Medina, 24, said the lack of stable, free Wi-Fi on the Coast surprised them. Miss Medina, on a working holiday visa, said when she arrived she expected lots of free Wi-Fi in shops and cafes, similar to Canada.
“A friend and I were like, ‘Let’s go into a store and get free Wi-fi – and there was nothing,” she said. “Every shop, cafe and store in Canada has it free. “Here you have to purchase something just to get 15 minutes.”
Mr Jahr, who is studing information technology at Griffith University, said Norway’s Wi-fi was “really stable” compared to that offered on the Gold Coast.
“Here it is highly unstable – you lose connectivity all the time,” he said. “Sometimes the speed drops and it’s really slow. “It’s pretty bad.”
Hong Kong visitor Tiffany Chan, 24, said she did not think the Wi-fi on the Coast had been “too bad”.
“It is good but it’s a little bit slow on the video,” she said.