Every year from mid-to-late November to Christmas Eve, it is the cherry picking season in Yang Town, Australia’s “cherry capital”. Recently, the reporter saw during the visit that the COVID-19 epidemic has greatly affected the local tourism industry and cherry picking and export. With the school holidays and Christmas coming, cherry garden owners are looking forward to the arrival of domestic tourists to bring a recovery to the local tourism industry and the cherry industry.
The cherry industry has been developed in Young Town, New South Wales for about 150 years. Thanks to natural conditions such as climate, soil and light, the locally grown cherries are full and sweet.
Every year on the first weekend of December, the town of Yang, with a population of about 10,000, holds the National Cherry Festival. Because Yang Town is not far from Sydney, many foreign tourists who travel deeply are also willing to come here to experience the fun of cherry picking. This year, affected by the epidemic, the 70-year-old National Cherry Festival was cancelled.
At the same time, affected by the epidemic control measures, a large number of foreign tourists have disappeared in previous years. Domestic tourists have become the hope for the recovery of the local tourism industry and the cherry industry.
Brent Randall, the local tourism director, told reporters that Australia’s primary and secondary schools will have a long holiday in mid-December, and it is approaching Christmas and New Year’s holidays, which is the peak tourist season. International travel this year has not been possible, so more and more Australians are looking for vacation destinations in China, which has also promoted the recovery of tourism in Yangzhen and other places.
“Our data shows that visitors have been growing very rapidly recently, especially after the states and territories open borders to each other, we are welcoming more and more visitors from Victoria, Queensland, and even South Australia, which is really great.” Randall said.
In order to attract more tourists, Yangzhen also held farmers’ markets, photo exhibitions and online street talent competitions on weekends. Although the scale is not comparable to the Cherry Festival, the response is good.
It is not only the tourism industry that expects domestic tourists. Steve Affleck, the owner of the Wombat Cherry Orchard, an orchard in Young Town that has been passed down for four generations, told reporters that due to the epidemic, overseas backpackers they hired to help pick cherries in previous years could not come, and the ripe cherries on the tree could not be harvested in time by the hands of their family alone. Therefore, this year, they opened the orchard to tourists for the first time, which not only solved the manpower problem, but also attracted more tourists.
“From the first weekend of trial, this plan has been successful. There are a big family, some with children, young couples, and retired old people. Everyone likes this experience very much. This is also more beneficial to us economically. Affleck said.
In the cherry orchard, rows of cherry trees stand on the field. Many tourists carrying buckets tasted and picked cherries. From time to time, they stopped to take photos with the bright red cherries.
Affleck said that after everything returns to normal in 2021, the orchard will continue to leave some areas for tourists to pick. Randall also said that he believed that next year’s National Cherry Festival would be held successfully, and welcomed tourists back to Youngtown again to experience the festive atmosphere.