What does ‘China-Australia Year of Tourism 2017’ mean for both countries?

Australia will enjoy the perks of the rising number of Chinese tourists. Pic: Shutterstock

RELATIONS between Australia and China are quite unlike that of the US and China, perpetuated in part by the declaration of China-Australia Year of Tourism 2017.

Beginning January 1, a host of activities, events, and promotions will take place to boost two-way leisure travel between the two nations.

For example, several Chinese airlines such as Air China, China Southern, and China Eastern have agreed to work with Australia to introduce joint marketing and promotional efforts, as well as increase capacity between both countries.

Plus, a six-feet inflatable panda and koala will be displayed at Darling Harbour, which will undoubtedly draw the attention of camera-toting tourists in the area.

But beyond the airline promotions and giant animal displays, do the joint tourism efforts make a difference for either nation? Let’s break it down.

For Australia…

Chinese tourists make up Australia’s biggest inbound tourist market. Pic: ms.nen/Shutterstock

More than 1.2 million Chinese tourists visited Australia in 2016, up 20 percent from the year before. For the first time this year, the number is projected to surpass that of Kiwis, who traditionally make up Australia’s biggest inbound tourist market.

A report by Traveller suggested that the Chinese are set to contribute US$9.8 billion to Australia’s national economy by 2020, up from the $6.8 billion contribution today.

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The report added that the tourism industry’s total contribution to Australia’s gross domestic product is now almost $40 billion with one in 20 Australians, or a total of 580,000 of us, now employed directly in tourism-related jobs.

On top of that, more Chinese airlines – some that include China Eastern, Hainan Airlines, China Southern, Xiamen Airlines, and Beijing Capital Airlines – are serving Australian cities, and are offering non-stop routes from at least one Australian city to up to 10 Chinese cities.

John O’Sullivan, managing director of Tourism Australia, said, “You can now fly direct to [and from] Australia from more than a dozen different cities in mainland China and the level of recent aviation activity gives you a pretty good indication of how the major Chinese airlines see future demand.

“Many of these new flights are from China’s secondary cities – places such as Kunming, Hangzhou and Wuhan – effectively opening up parts of China which are, as yet, largely untapped for us.”

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More Chinese airlines are serving Australian cities. Pic: Rebius/Shutterstock

One of the reasons Chinese airlines are popular among Aussies is the competitive prices. You’ve probably been fronted with a Chinese airline when researching cheap flights to Asia or Europe on a flight aggregator site.

Despite attractive prices, Chinese carriers have a long way to go in instilling trust among Aussies when it comes to safety.

Western travelers say that safety records and loyalty schemes are reservations they might have with Chinese airlines despite a strong safety record.

Mike Young, frequent business traveler to China, told Reuters, “I don’t know the Chinese safety record, but anecdotally you feel safer on Cathay.”

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The Traveller report also predicted an increase of quality Chinese food in Australia if the collaboration takes off.

The report said: “The growth in Chinese tourist numbers may finally encourage more regionally-focused Chinese restaurants here that will benefit both Chinese and Australian foodies alike, as well as generate more employment in the hospitality segment.”

For China…

More Aussies are visiting China each year. Pic: travellight/Shutterstock

The China National Tourism Administration said that Australians rank thirteenth among international visitors to China, with more than 720,000 visiting mainland China each year.

In the year ending June 2016, 439,000 Australians visited China, an increase of 83 percent from the decade before. However, the figures don’t come close to the volume of Chinese visitors that have flooded into Australia over the same period.

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Chinese tourists will also be able to enjoy the trial runs of ten-year multiple entry visas, making it that much easier to enter Australia.

Late last year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said at a tourism summit, “We are working to improve the competitiveness of the Australian visa system, including by trialling 10-year multiple entry visitor visas for China.”

He added, “China is already our number one market by value and it is about to become our number one market by volume. That is no mean feat given the highly competitive nature of the market, with 190 national tourism organisations competing for international visitors.”

With the host of Chinese cultural performances and events taking place in Sydney and beyond, more Aussies will be more inclined to get acquainted with Chinese culture, which could altogether spark a higher interest of holidays in China.

SEE ALSO: China keen to lure more Aussie tourists