ATEC View – June 2011

Are we ready to tap the huge potential of China’s outbound tourism market?

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ATECAre we ready to tap the huge potential of China’s outbound tourism market?

By Felicia Mariani, managing director, Australian Tourism Export Council


THIS month I have attended the inaugural Australia-China Summit held in Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney between June 6-10.

The event opened everyone’s eyes to how big the potential for this market really is for Australia’s tourism industry. We’ve all heard the present numbers, but the statistics indicating the potential are staggering – it is now up to Australia to step up to the challenge and leverage these opportunities.

Tourism Australia (TA) managing director Andrew McEvoy delivered an animated and enlightening presentation of TA’s China 2020 Strategic Plan.

China is currently Australia’s fourth largest market (only marginally behind the US) with 454,000 arrivals, a 24 per cent increase over 2009.

It is already our number one market in terms of value – delivering nearly $3.3 billion dollars to our economy.

By 2020, it is projected that this market will be worth between $7 billion and $9 billion with some 860,000 potential visitors to our shores. China will produce some 100 million outbound travellers globally representing $US838 billion in predicted value over the next 10 years.

At a time when our traditional core markets from the west are stagnant at best, or in decline, China has returned an annual average growth rate for all outbound travel of 15 per cent.

By comparison, the average outbound annual growth rate for all international travel is six per cent.
Australia is the destination of choice in the Asia-Pacific region capturing 63 per cent of Chinese outbound travellers. New Zealand is in second place with 17 per cent.

However, as Andrew McEvoy has rightly noted, this is a market that has taken 12 years to become an overnight success. Australia and New Zealand were the first countries to receive Approved Destination Status (ADS) from China back in 1999.

There are now 140 countries that have been granted this status – and each one of them is looking to China for their tourism salvation.

McEvoy was also quick to note that any successful strategy for Australia requires us to continue to retain and enhance a balanced portfolio of core markets that will provide the diversification necessary to drive visitor numbers and spend.

TA recognises that Australia needs to stay on the front foot and its approach is focused on this outcome. The strategy has five key themes:

  • Know the customer better than our competitors;
  • Move further geographically to focus on other areas of highly concentrated potential;
  • We must have quality tourism experiences to promote;
  • We are an island nation, so access is our lifeblood; and
  • Establish key partnerships that help us to drive a successful outcome.

When I considered these key themes, I was reminded that such a strategy is wise for any market and provides us with great opportunity to create new business and attract better spend.

With more first time travellers – in any direction – we have new business opportunities for our travel trade.


ATEC View column appears quarterly.





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