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More than 100 travel agents from Australia, New Zealand and the UK have returned from Wendy Wu Tours first ever ‘megafam’ to Changsha and Hunan Provinces in China, with renewed enthusiasm and product knowledge for some of the destination’s lesser known, yet awe inspiring, regions.

The six-day famil saw agents explore a mix of city and more rural and regional locations, with a focus on the natural wonderland that is Zhangjiajie National Park for a taste of Chinese culture and sightseeing beyond the usual tourist trail.

Company founder Wendy Wu personally escorted the journey, alongside Australian Head of Sales, Belinda “Wardy” Ward and Australia’s Head of Product, Sonia Orrego. Wendy thrilled agents by unexpectedly stepping into ‘tour manager’ role at different parts of the adventure, divulging her own thoughts and perspectives with agents as part of the experience.

You heard it here first – China is back, and interest is building

Belinda said the overall objective of the famil was to reignite awareness and inspire travel to China. “Our message was clear – it’s back, and better than ever,” she said. “China is a fascinating place, and we made sure everyone had a wide variety of experiences to ensure their product knowledge is on point for clients considering this destination for their next trip.”

Belinda said some of the agents’ favourite moments included a cross-country bullet train journey, and a magical nighttime tour of the long and narrow Orange Island Park, China’s biggest inland island, located in the Xiangjiang River and famous for centuries for its delicious oranges.

Chasing a Natural High at China’s ‘Grand Canyon’

Thrill seekers and nature enthusiasts were in heaven at Zhangjiajie National Park in Hunan Province, home to Avatar Mountain (made famous in the West thanks to the Hollywood blockbuster), and the world’s tallest outdoor ‘Bailong’ elevator. On top of Tianmen Mountain, some 1,519 metres high stunning views included ‘Heaven’s Door’, vertical cliffs and the 99 Bends. Agents enjoyed the thrilling cliff-hanging walkway, ziplining and 430-metre long glass skywalk, plus the world’s longest cable car ride, making it unquestionably one of the best mountains to visit in China.

Back on the ground the group’s itinerary featured a cruise on the crystal-clear waters of Baofeng Lake in the Wulingyuan Scenic Area in Hunan Province, with a chance to learn about the local Tujia ethnic minority and their traditional customs and performances.

On returning to Zhangjiajie city, the famil group visited a new cultural landmark which opened in 2022 during the covid period – 72 Strange Buildings Scenic Area. At a height of 109.9 metres, it is listed as the world’s tallest Tujia stilted building and served up a stunning bonfire night as well as the region’s most popular local delicacy – giant salamander – which was a culinary highlight for the group. 

The outlook? Demand for ‘nature’ holidays leads to new itineraries and bookings

Wendy Wu Tours Australia’s Managing Director Simon Bell reports that the company is definitely seeing an increase in bookings month on month as people continue to recognise that there is so much on offer in China.

“There is certainly an emerging interest in National Parks and regional destinations from our clients which is interesting. It’s also been a catalyst for increased demand for our Go Beyond range, which typically sees our guests venturing off the well-trodden tourist path for a deeper experience in the destination. This is often paired with more physical activity to reach some of the awe-inspiring locations they visit. A highlight for many of our guests is their time spent in different kinds of local accommodation that encourage more genuine and personal encounters with local communities and culture.”

Simon added that in support of this interest, Wendy Wu Tours has introduced two brand new tour itineraries in China for 2024 and 2025 – Gems of China, and National Treasures of China – which both take in Zhangjiajie as part of their itineraries.”

Gems of China 

This 16-day classic tour is fully inclusive and priced from $6,980 pp twin share from $8,360pp for solo travellers. This represents a saving of $600 as part of the Wonderlust Sale – selected departures*. Travellers will visit Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, take a Yangtze River Cruise, visit Zhangjiajie, and Shanghai. It is billed as being perfect for first time travellers that can handle some days with heavier walking of up to 4-5 hours required. Simon says, “The first departure is scheduled for October 2024 and we’re taking bookings now.”

Natural Treasures of China 

Also16-days in length, this Go Beyond tour is priced from $7,980 pp twin share or from $9,060pp for solo travellers. This price represents a saving of $600 as part of the Wonderlust Sale – available on selected departures*. It includes accommodation, and most meals with some dinners left out to encourage travellers to explore and enjoy the various night markets on offer at their leisure. The itinerary visits those lesser travelled places in China such as Changsha, Zhangjiajie, Fenghuang, Chengdu, Nine Villages Valley and Chongqing. It has been designed to be ‘synched’ with Wendy Wu Tours ‘China Experience’ departures in 2025, so clients can combine the usual China highlights with more nature focused destinations.

Simon says, “A convenient bullet train links Beijing and Changsha to link these two tour itineraries with ease. Flights are based on overnight flights in both directions with China Southern, which is the most direct option for Australian travellers, return travellers to China, or first-time travellers looking for a nature filled holiday that goes deeper into this incredibly vibrant country, well beyond the typical tourist path.”

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