Influx of Chinese visitors props up Australia’s tourism market

For the first time this year, the Chinese are projected to surpass Kiwis who traditionally make up Australia’s biggest inbound tourist market. Source: Reuters/ David Gray

THE Chinese have caught on to Australia’s far-reaching appeal of sunshine, golden beaches, wine regions, and fascinating wildlife.

Last year, over 1.2 million Chinese visited Australia, making up a significant portion of Australia’s tourism market. To put it into context, out of the US$30 billion overseas visitors spent in Australia over the past year, almost US$7 billion or 23 percent is attributed to Chinese tourists.

For the first time this year, the Chinese are projected to surpass Kiwis who traditionally make up Australia’s biggest inbound tourist market.

Both nations are fostering more travel by introducing more direct routes between the two of them. An “open skies” aviation agreement was formalised last year, removing all capacity restrictions between the countries.

There are currently 114 direct flights weekly between the two countries, with routes to smaller, previously untapped Chinese cities such as Kunming, Hangzhou and Wuhan being served.

Comparatively, a decade ago, the only direct links between China and Australia were through major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney, and Melbourne.

The agreement also includes open code sharing provisions and a significant expansion of “fifth freedom” traffic rights, which allows Chinese and Australian carriers to service destinations between and beyond both countries. Fifth Freedom flights are often heavily discounted.

Australia’s Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steven Ciobo said, “This agreement will help Australia snare a larger slice of [the outbound Chinese market], creating more Australian jobs and economic growth.”

On top of that, the Australian government introduced a fast-track visa program and 10-year multiple entry visas for Chinese visitors.

To increase overseas spending, Australia should also see about installing more China-ready services and facilities such as signage, tours, restaurants, and retailers.

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