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2006 Media Releases - Corporate - THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE NOW COME IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES

Issued Monday, 23 January 2006

THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE NOW COME IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES

Sydney Opera House has become Australia’s first major tourist attraction to offer foreign language tours.

In response to trends within Asian markets, and the increase in Asian visitors to the building, Sydney Opera House will start offering guided tours in Korean, Japanese and Mandarin today.

After an intensive training program 20 new foreign speaking guides have been trained to conduct the tours, which will run twice daily in each language.

Director of Tourism and Visitor Operations, Maria Sykes said that SOH is delighted to be able to welcome Asian tourists inside the building and share its extraordinary history and architecture in their native languages for the first time.

“This is the beginning of a new era for the SOH visitor experience, and the first major development to our visitor offering in recent times. We look forward to attracting a wider audience to the building,” Ms Sykes said.

“Our English tours are already a great success and last year we hosted more than 250,000 visitors through the main halls and backstage areas. With the recruitment of new guides and foreign language guides, we have doubled the number of SOH tour guides from 35 to 70, which will help to meet the growing demand.

“The new foreign language tours are expected to help SOH capitalise on the estimated 4.5 million visitors to the building each year, and the growth of inbound tourists from Asia,” she said.

Currently, Japanese tourists are the fourth largest group visiting SOH and it is estimated that 166,360 Japanese visited SOH in 2004/05. Koreans are the fifth largest visitor group and it is estimated that 130,928 Koreans visited SOH in this period. These stats also show that Chinese visitors are the sixth largest group with 136,520 coming last year. SOH is also very popular with other Mandarin speaking nationalities such as Taiwanese and Singaporean.

“The tours will put us in a much better position to benefit from China’s economic boom,” Ms Sykes said.

“With almost two thirds of first time international visitors to Australia expected to be from Asia by 2015, and over one billion people speaking Mandarin worldwide, it is only fitting that we extend our visitor offering to non-English speaking tourists.

“The launch of the foreign language tours will help us to live up to our status as one of the world’s top global landmarks with a recognition surpassing most of its global competitors.”

After an independent tourism review conducted by former Tourism Australia Chief, Ken Boundy, SOH recently took steps to improve its visitor operations, by establishing a new team and new direction.

“The foreign language tours are the first of many new exciting developments which will continue to make SOH a “must do” Sydney experience,” Ms Sykes said.

The first guided tour of SOH was on July 1 1973, before the building was completed and the popular new backstage tours were introduced in 2004.

Tourist Attractions Association President Ken Corbett said “ We believe Sydney Opera House is the first attraction in Australia offering regular scheduled daily tours in foreign languages by in house Guides. “The introduction of these tours of the Opera House are a welcome addition to the industry,” he said.

Tour information
Ø The hour-long tours take in the halls, such as the Concert Hall or the Opera Theatre, as well as a number of the smaller theatres. The tours include a brief overview of the history and architecture of the building as well as an introduction to the Australian performing arts scene including details of the current Sydney Opera House performances.

Ø The tours will run in each language at 11am and 2.30pm daily and include a complimentary soft drink, tea or coffee.

Ø At $23.00 for adults and $16.00 for children 16 and under, Australian seniors and students, the cost of a tour is affordable and excellent value.

Ø English tours cost the same and run every half an hour.

Ø For more information or to book a tour today please call Tourism Reservations on +61 2 9250 7250 or email tourism@sydneyoperahouse.com. Information will be available on www.sydneyoperahouse.com soon.

Ø Advance bookings are not necessary and visitors can buy or collect tickets at the Guided Tours Booking Office on the Lower Concourse at Sydney Opera House.

Visitor Numbers - based on Tourism Australia visitor data from June 2005

Country

Year

# of pax to visit SOH

1 United Kingdom

2004/05

186,154

2005/06

203,460

2 USA

2004/05

149,681

2005/06

163,872

3 New Zealand

2004/05

149,230

2005/06

168,674

4 Japan

2004/05

147,483

2005/06

166,360

5 Korea

2004/05

124,473

2005/06

130,928

6 China

2004/05

114,811

2005/06

136,520

7 Other Europe

2004/05

113,602

2005/06

124,277

8 Germany

2004/05

39,694

2005/06

42,333

9 Singapore

2004/05

38,989

2005/06

43,732

10 Taiwan

2004/05

36,894

2005/06

40,848

11 Hong Kong

2004/05

36,889

2005/06

41,230

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