Links between the Port Arthur Historic Site and a major World Heritage-listed treasure in western China are being strengthened this month, with a visit to the convict-era site by three Chinese guiding staff.
The English-speaking guides are from the Dunhuang Academy, home of the Mogao Grottoes, located on the ancient Silk Route in central China.
The Mogao site, which was added to the World Heritage list in 1987, consists of more than 700 caves, many containing elaborate painted sculptures and wall paintings depicting aspects of Buddhist history and legend. The oldest are believed to date back to the fourth century AD.
The guides are working alongside Port Arthur staff in various areas, including guiding, interpretive techniques, ticketing, gift shop and tourism management practices.
Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority CEO Stephen Large said that the visit provided an opportunity for a valuable cultural exchange.
“The purpose of their visit is partly to develop their English skills and observe our management and operational practices, but there will also be benefits to the Port Arthur staff in terms of cultural awareness, with tourism from China to Australia increasing as it is,” said Mr Large.
“This visit provides our staff with a wonderful opportunity to understand how Chinese visitors, with their ancient and very different culture and history, perceive our heritage sites.”
“Our staff have also enjoyed showing our guests some true Tasmanian hospitality and introducing them to a different cuisine.”
This visit builds on a number of previous visits to Port Arthur by staff from Mogao, and several Port Arthur personnel have been able to visit Mogao and the Dunhuang Academy. The relationship was established by Professor Sharon Sullivan, Deputy Chair of the PAHSMA Board, who has been a consultant on conservation projects at Mogao for many years.
The Chinese Guides will be at the Site until late March.