Look out for China, says tourism supremo
China’s airline sector might have slowed this year but passenger numbers are still increasing at an annual rate greater than the sum of Australia’s total yearly passengers.
Taking this into account, China sits at the heart of Australia’s international marketing efforts and this was reflected in Tourism Australia’s decision to launch the latest phase of its “There’s nothing like Australia” global marketing campaign in Shanghai earlier this month.
Yet while the launch of the advertisement was a reflection of Australia’s focus on China, Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy recently said a continuing increase in the numbers of Chinese visitors was not a given. He suggested Australia’s success in China depended a lot more on a good-looking advertisement.
Speaking at the Australian Tourism Exchange in Perth, McEvoy explained that that you can build all the demand you want through compelling ads, but if the actual experience fails to deliver on the promise, you end up doing more harm than good.
"The China 2020 Strategic Plan, which we unveiled in June 2011, identified a number of critical areas where work is needed to achieve China’s tourism potential and win market share. And even though it's still very early days, I do feel we're making solid progress in some key areas," McEvoy said.
McEvoy added that being 'China ready' was critical if the industry is to fully leverage Australia's destination appeal among China's new urban elite.
"The fact that 542,000 Chinese travellers visited our country last year is fantastic, but certainly no reason to feel the job is done. If we're not fully prepared, the Asian Century will pass us by. The great news is that we’re starting to see the industry really embrace the Asian Century by adapting their business to meet the needs of Chinese visitors,” he said.
McEvoy believes Australia’s China ambitions will be significantly aided through the new Asia Marketing Fund, announced by the Australian Government in the recent 2012/13 Budget. This will deliver an additional A$61 million to Tourism Australia’s budget over the next four years, helping to accelerate its development plans in China.
Being “China ready” is already working for a number of Australian operators with McEvoy citing South Australia’s Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre in the Barossa Valley who have employed Mandarin speaking staff and provide Chinese cultural awareness training for all employees. Materials such as brochures, tasting notes and menus are also available in Simplified Chinese.
In Perth, 90 per cent of Burswood Entertainment Complex’s International Operations team speaks Mandarin and all staff are trained through “China Ready” workshops. Burswood is also working with China Southern Airlines to boost awareness and China visits.
At Skyrail in Cairns, Queensland – cultural awareness training is provided for staff, with annual refreshers. Other simple measures include welcome signage and guides in simplified Chinese.
McEvoy also pointed to work carried out by Tourism Australia that has influenced recent improvements in aviation access and capacity between Australia and China. The tourism body Tourism has also recently restructured its Greater China operations to better focus on its Asian growth markets, bolstering the China team with more resources and appointing a new Regional Manager Greater China, Eva Huang.
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