China tourism brings $3.8bn bonanza
Lunch Magazine exclusive
China’s rise as Australia’s fastest growing and most valuable international tourism market is reflected in the most recent International Visitor Survey numbers with revenue from the Middle Kingdom up 15 per cent on the previous calendar year at $3.8 billion.
Moreover, new research findings suggest this bullish growth will continue as China’s middle and upper class travellers’ strongest preference was Australia as their most desired long haul destination.
The study commissioned by Tourism Australia and carried out by research consultancy GfK Blue Moon represents the first time Tourism Australia has undertaken comprehensive research into the travel behaviour and preferences of consumers living in China's rapidly growing secondary cities, including Chongqing, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wuhan and Xiamen – all rising global cities.
Reinforcing the burgeoning importance of this market for Australian tourism, a record 558,600 Chinese visited Australia during the 12 months ending January 2012, up 17.1 per cent (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics).
The research provides key insights into the Chinese consumer, their purchasing intentions and desire for experiencing travel.
Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy believes extending research for the first time into China's secondary cities was essential to build upon its successful campaign platform and to now maximise the geographic reach and impact of its future marketing activity.
The study found Australia is seen as an aspirational, highly regarded and ‘must visit’ destination.
Furthermore, Australia meets the majority of Chinese long haul travellers’ expectations. Combining natural and laid back experiences with the comforts of a developed country, offering modern infrastructure and unique and famous iconic attractions.
Importantly, the study found Australia’s tourism offerings exceeded Chinese travellers' expectations.
"We plan to use these findings to help prioritise our marketing activities in China and best educate the Australian tourism industry to capitalise on the anticipated strong growth in the middle and upper classes that can afford and want to travel long-haul outside of China," McEvoy says.
The research will inform Tourism Australia’s marketing and support its China 2020 Strategic Plan, announced in June 2011. Under the plan, Tourism Australia will target up to 30 Chinese cities, in a phased approach between now and decade’s end.
“Tourism Australia will make a further record investment in marketing resources in China in 2012 for the market is unprecedented in terms of its high growth and high value. The Chinese consumer also has great enthusiasm for our country – in their view there is nothing like Australia.
“But to achieve long-term success in a now highly competitive China market we must seek greater understanding of the many millions of customers who live outside of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and what drives their travel decisions in the immediate future. That's where the real China growth opportunities lie," McEvoy says.
It’s a belief shared by CAPA Centre for Aviation executive chairman, Peter Harbison, who says the potential of Chinese tourism is mind-boggling.
“If the north-east Asian triangle’s airline market (North China, Japan and Korea) is fully-liberalised you’re looking at another 200 million passengers a year. That’s 200 million people who will want to fly and who will be able to afford it,” Harbison says.
“Not counting Cathay Pacific, Chinese carriers could be offering 350-500 flights a week into Australia by 2020 from the current 60.
“You are looking at phenomenal growth. Just over a year ago, the quaint little town of Chengdu with its population of 30 million wasn’t even on anyone’s radar but now we have another Chinese airline, Sichuan Airlines, flying direct to Australia from there – it’s massive.''
It’s these sorts of numbers, which have led Tourism Australia to believe China has the potential to grow annual overnight visitor expenditure between $7 billion and up to $9 billion by 2020.
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