A delegation led by Tourism Australia’s managing director, Phillipa Harrison, toured China in late June 2023. This organisation recently launched a global initiative to invite tourists back to the country. In a brief promotional video showcasing the Come and Say G’day campaign, an animated kangaroo, Ruby, introduces a foreigner to what Australia has to offer. Local media outlets are now encouraging Chinese travellers and others to book holidays there (Gong, 2023; Harrison, 2023; Randall, 2023; The Australian, 2023; Travel Bulletin, n.d.; Tourism Australia, n.d.). I (Dr. Jun Wen) have spoken to outlets such as ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) (Randall, 2023) and SBS Chinese (Gong, 2023; Gong & Qu, 2023) to discuss how this campaign might persuade Chinese tourists to visit Australia. This article would like to share some more thoughts on this matter based on ongoing research.
- Australia is no longer a government-approved group tourism destination for Chinese tourists (Gong, 2023; Zhao, 2023).
If Australia continues to be excluded as a government-approved destination for Chinese visitors, the effectiveness of the Come and Say G’day campaign in this market will be compromised. Several media reports have highlighted the significance of visas in the travel plans of Chinese tourists (Zhao, 2023). In simple terms, while the Come and Say G’day campaign video showcases Australia’s tourism attractions effectively, it fails to address the concerns of prospective tourists regarding their ability to visit Australia in the first place. Indeed, “Until Australia becomes an approved group tourism country by the Chinese government, it will be difficult for the Australian tourism market in China to recover any time soon” (Gong, 2023).
- Can the Come and Say G’day campaign draw Chinese tourists back to Australia?
During interviews, I have emphasized that merely using a promotional video is insufficient to influence tourists’ behavior or decisions (Gong, 2023). The Chinese tourism market for Australia is influenced by various national factors, and there are numerous other aspects that impact Chinese tourists’ holiday plans. In their study, McKercher and Dolnicar (2022) highlighted that in 2021 alone, 10,752 articles related to tourism, hospitality, and events were published across 272 refereed journals. Many of these papers focused on the post-pandemic era and its implications for the tourism market, particularly in relation to COVID-19. Undoubtedly, the pandemic has brought about significant social, economic, and political changes in the Chinese tourism market. Therefore, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of tourist behavior and the contextual changes in order to tap into large markets like China. Promotional campaigns can complement these efforts.
- Any other way can be considered to understand the Chinese tourism market?
Yes, my colleagues, Prof. Ian Phau from Curtin University, Australia, Prof. Metin Kozak from Kadir Has University, Turkey and I, recommend that Australia strategically harness the Chinese tourism market as a source of visitors. A proverb from Sun Tzu in The Art of War suggests, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. In the context of marketing, this implies that advertisers must have a deep understanding of their target markets in order to effectively reach them.
To address the need for highlighting diversity in China’s tourism industry as borders reopen, Prof. Ian Phau and I will be launching a special issue entitled “Inbound tourism in China” for Anatolia, an internationally recognized academic journal edited by Prof. Metin Kozak. The call for papers (Wen & Phau, 2023) emphasizes the opportunity for visitors to experience the myriad cultures, traditions, dialects, and landscapes found throughout China’s vast expanse of 9,562,910 km². Additionally, Lonely Planet has identified numerous sites in China that are of interest to international travellers.
Considering China’s popularity as a destination worldwide, it is important for Australia’s tourism industry to offer unique experiences distinct from those in China. Australian tourism operators should ensure they truly understand the wants and expectations of Chinese tourists post-COVID-19. China has long been recognized as a major tourist source market for many countries, so practitioners in Australia’s tourism sector need to identify ways to differentiate the country and attract Chinese visitors. It would be beneficial for industry workers to personally visit China and interact with locals, including potential outbound tourists, to gain insights that can inform promotional efforts. The special issue planned by our team aims to provide a new perspective on China’s diverse tourism offerings, helping international destinations see China from a fresh angle.
We hope that China and Australia will eventually capitalize on each other’s rich travel opportunities. Ideally, Chinese tourists will soon be welcomed back to Australia to immerse themselves in unforgettable experiences.
Jun Wen is a Lecturer in Tourism and Service Marketing at the School of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University.
Ian Phau is a John Curtin Distinguished Professor at the School of Management and Marketing, Curtin University, Australia.
Metin Kozak is a Professor of Tourism Marketing at the Department of Advertising,
School of Communication, Kadir Has University, Istanbul, Turkey.