2017 is the Australia-China Year of Tourism, as the two nations join forces to increase the flow of visitors – and tourist spending – between them.
In conjunction with a travel-industry partnership, Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull also launched a range of initiatives designed to increase tourism flow to Australia. At a recent conference in Shanghai, Turnbull said that Australia plans to trial a 10-year multiple-entry visa for Chinese visitors, along with online visa applications, to be launched imminently. It is hoped these new visa processes will reduce the complexity of the application process, particularly for Chinese students, reported International Journalism 280 website. Application forms will be offered in Mandarin Chinese, the first time they have been available in a language other than English. ‘Eight student visa categories will be reduced to two, to make it more straightforward and easier for students to apply to come and study in Australia,’ he explained at the conference.
Tourism Australia’s digital booking platform
Turnbull also announced the launch of a dedicated Tourism Australia digital platform in China, which is targeted at the huge number of Chinese smartphone users that book overseas travel on their mobiles or online, as reported on the Tourism Australia website. According to local sources, as part of the digital strategy China’s online search engine giant Ctrip worked with Tourism Australia and Queensland to launch an exclusive 360-degree virtual-reality online experience which allows users to virtually experience trips to Australia’s most popular tourist destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef. Australia and China have a 20-year history of mutually popular tourism, and Australia considers China its most valuable inbound tourism market.
Chinese tourism in Australia worth AUS$13bn by 2020
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, China is the number one country of residence for short-term visitors, with tourism from the country expected to be worth more than 13 billion Australian dollars (8.8 billion euros) by 2020. In 2015, more than a million Chinese tourists travelled to Australia, with a total shopping spend of 8.3 billion Australian dollars (5.6 billion euros). The number of Chinese tourists travelling to Australia is growing at 20% per year, according to Business Insider, which cites Tourism Australia data.
Digital smart gates launch for Chinese
The digital trend continues with the Australian government’s recent extension of its SmartGate service for arrivals at eight key airports (Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Cairns, Darwin, Gold Coast) to registered Chinese citizens. Previously the service was only available for citizens from Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and USA.
Ctrip report: Australia is safest most popular destination
According to Ctrip’s 2016 most popular destinations report, released at the beginning of the year, Australia is described by Chinese travellers as one of the safest countries in the world, and is gaining in popularity among Chinese tourists. Yu Lan, general manager of Ctrip’s Outbound Data Centre, believes that with the disposable income of Chinese middle classes increasing, visa applications being simplified and more flights becoming available, the Chinese trend for outbound travel to Australia will keep growing. ‘Those who can provide good-quality products, competitive prices and safe environment will be definitely win Chinese hearts,’ she says, according to Global Blue sources.
Global Blue takeouts:
• 2017 will be an important year for China-Australia tourism relations, with inbound tourism from China set to increase by 20%.
• Chinese tourists consider Australia a safe place to travel.
• Tourism Australia has worked with Chinese online tour operator giant Ctrip to launch virtual experiences for some of Australia’s top tourist attractions.
• Australia is targeting digitally savvy Chinese tourists with a dedicated app for bookings and smart gates for registered travellers at larger airports.