“New Record: Over a million Chinese tourists descend on Australia”

China’s middle-class have defied the economic slump their country is facing with a record number of tourists visiting the land down-under over the last year.

Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan attributes this record growth to the shift in marketing away from targeting traditional group tours and focussing instead on China’s rapidly emerging middle class.

“Tourism Australia’s marketing, distribution and partnership strategies are all now geared towards targeting this new breed of young, independent traveller with the desire and the financial means to explore our country,” Mr O’Sullivan recently told Travel Weekly.

According to a report in Travel Weekly, other initiatives have included building an “elite” network of travel agents in China who are specially trained to sell tour packages to high-yielding clients. The tourism body has also signed major agreements with China’s largest carriers, including China Southern, China Eastern and Air China.

“The good news is that the industry is really starting to embrace this incredible opportunity by developing experiences which better meet the needs of the many Chinese visitors now flocking to our country,” O’Sullivan added.

There is a great deal more room to grow. Tourism and Transport Forum figures indicate that there are some 100 million Chinese travelling overseas as tourists each year. This figure is set to double by 2020 and Australia needs to be prepared for this growth.

“Chinese visitors spent more than $7.72 billion in the year to September 2015 according to the latest research which is over 200 per cent more compared to the $2.55 billion spent by our current largest tourist market of New Zealand.” chief executive Margy Osmond told Travel Weekly.

The Government’s efforts to boost flight capacity, visa reforms and focused international marketing are increasing Australia’s appeal in the growing global tourism market, noted Minister for Tourism and International Education, (and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment) Senator Richard Colbeck. Tourism has been identified as one of five key National Investment Priorities.

“We have, and will continue to, focus on targeted international marketing and undertaking visa reforms…Our measures, such as opening a new Australian Visa Application Centre in Chengdu, China and streamlining visa application processes are making it easier for Chinese tourists to come to Australia, which will support continued growth into the future.”

Colbeck too acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead.

“While the tourism industry is clearly thriving, there is still more work to be done to ensure we can cater for the increased demand into the future and to encourage tourists to visit our unique rural and regional areas,” he said.

“The government will be working hard to spread the benefits from the surge in tourists to all Australians through greater infrastructure investment and further streamlining visa and entry processes, leading to more job opportunities in regional Australia.”

(c) MigrationAlliance

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