Is Australia really losing the China tourism race?

ScreenHunter_4843 Nov. 06 17.10

By Leith van Onselen

TripAdvisor has released new data claiming that Australia is losing the race to lure Chinese tourists, ranking just 17th on the list of the most popular international destinations for Chinese travellers. From The Canberra Times:

Data based on page views recorded on – TripAdvisor’s official website in China – between September 2013 and September 2014 found Australia ranked behind several non-Asian long-haul destinations including the United States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, the United Arab Emirates and Germany.

The most popular destination searched by the lucrative Chinese tourists was Hong Kong, followed by the US in second place.

This looks like overly simplistic analysis to me. The latest overseas short-term arrivals and departures figures from the ABS revealed that tourist arrivals from China are booming, and hit a record 77,700 in September 2013:

ScreenHunter_4849 Nov. 07 07.14

Moreover, in the year to September 2014, tourism arrivals from China hit a record 801,500, with their share of total tourists also a record 11.8%. In fact, the total number of tourist arrivals from China has more than doubled since the beginning of 2010 (see next chart).

ScreenHunter_4850 Nov. 07 07.16

The signs are also good for continued strong growth in tourist arrivals from China.

As shown in the next chart, tourism is highly sensitive to the strength of the Australian dollar:

ScreenHunter_5009 Nov. 14 10.44

With the Australian dollar now falling, and likely to continue doing so as commodity prices and the terms-of-trade unwind, there is likely to be a big lift in tourist arrivals, including from China.

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    • +1

      Rather sick of the sight of seeing these awful coaches packed with grim looking chinese with their uncouth spitting and smoking.

      Let them take their ill-gotten money elsewhere

      • Thankfully Aussies dont spit, smoke or drink ……………and by the way, they are taking their money elsewhere because they can.

    • The basic issue is that your average rich Chinese is not really interested in what Australia currently has to offer – space, sea and natural beauty. In order to really capitalise on the China tourism boom (while it lasts) we would need to fundamentally re-imagine our tourism industry and structure it around:
      – golf
      – gambling
      – Chinese food
      – shopping – at a level that is barely imaginable to your average Aussie (designer stores are a dime a dozen in HKG, for example – literally on every street corner)
      – luxury spas
      – high levels of service. Real, Asian-style service, not the “I’m an interesting character and don’t you wish I was your best mate” act that seems to pass for service on QANTAS etc.

      I won’t be holding my breath and I’m not really sure that I’d like to see us go down that road. We need to aim higher than this. Sure there’s honour in providing good service at a fair price, but I can’t see us succeeding at it. Not in the Aussie DNA.

      • You are right about this. Australia really doesnt do high end, luxury and service very well. And as for Qantas, as i have experienced recently, even at the bus class level they fail on most levels as far as the overall “experience” which is what you are looking for when you pay the ridiculous price of a bus class seat (thankfully i wasnt paying 🙂 .

        But yes, we should definitely be trying to attract this market. The Chinese do love australia its just that the rest of the world is , IMO, doing a better job of marketing and accommodating to the Chinese needs. They are big spenders and we desperately need our tourism sector to improve from where it is at now. If we can become competitive in this space, its not just the chinese market that we will attract but Indonesian, Jap, Middle East, etc and all the emerging / Developing markets.

        I just came back from Dubai and it has none of the natural beauty that Australia has but there service proposition is phenomenal.

      • If we want to improve our service delivery we’d better open the cheap 457 floodgates a bit further ala Dubai. Your average local, self entitled, ‘wealthy’ customer service provider generally has other things on their mind, like wanting to be the manager or finding another job where they’re not having to be subservient to others. Local stats would tell us nearly two out of ten of them are wealth building property investors to boot. They’re too rich to have to work hard for a living.

      • not all of the Chinese are into designer clothing…they just have a different sense of style and Australia’s not well known for fashion…i honestly think its the racism rumors that adversely affect Australian tourism.

      • “—Sure there’s honour in providing good service at a fair price, but I can’t see us succeeding at it. Not in the Aussie DNA.”

        You can say that again ! Have just recently travelled around Australia for almost 2 years I can attest to the $hit level of accommodation available in most destinations. We stayed in so called “self serviced ” accommodation for stays of 2-5 days.

        As there is F&^% all to do at night in most regional towns & the nightmare becomes trying to get someplace with a “comfortable lounge” to watch a decent size TV. Would you believe that a lot of these “tourist” accommodation places still advertise:
        Colour TV with remote !

        Not a laughing matter as invariably if not careful you’ll get a 40 yr old 26″ TV & be expected to part with up to $200 per night. You’ll also get a low backed lounge with a couple of large cushions & be expected to be grateful (and comfortable)

        Accommodation for anyone travelling around Australia is in general CRAP! I could go on but too many painful memories of the hours put in just to troll through the offerings. Beware.

  1. Failing dollar will also drive spending of Australian going overseas.Even if numbers of Australians going overseas falls due to lower AUD total spending overseas (in AUD) will probably not

  2. The idea that tourism is sensitive to the exchange rate needs to be thought about in context of the perception of cost. For example, even if the dollar were to depreciate 20% against the USD, Australia would still be perceived as a high cost destination. The same could not be said about a beach holiday in Sri Lanka, even if the rupee appreciated 20%. Another example is Australians skiing in Japan. Even during the period of exceptionally strong JPY post-GFC, skiers still flocked to Niseko as it is perceived as cheaper than to ski in Australia (not to mention the superior snow and cultural charm). So if tourism is all about exchange rates, this should be a bumper winter for the Japanese resorts.

    • Skiing in S Korea is the best kept secret, while I might bump into to the odd aussie among the growing number of foreigners each year, so far it’s mostly locals and I can only hope it stays that way.

      • Yeah, but the terrain and snow in Korea don’t measure up compared to Japan. We’re talking about some of the best skiing on the planet. Most Aussies who go skiing in Japan are not really up to what is on offer, but there’s something for everyone.

    • its very sensitive to chinese tourists cos they only come here to buy LV bags and line up outside of channel, screw any cultural monuments they don’t have luxury labels on them

  3. Is it a boon though to have more Chinese tourists? They stick with mainly Chinese owned companies, for shopping, food, tours and now hotels.

    Chinese companies are quickly buying up hotels so they can capture more of their citizens travelling abroad and cater for their needs better. Chinese do not want foreign experiences when they travel, they want Chinese experiences.

    • ‘they want Chinese experiences’

      That explains the number I’m seeing travelling around with dust/face masks. Reminds them of home. Or are we just getting more than our fair share of Chinese preppers?

      • And latex gloves. One of the women at the local newsagent has taken to wearing a mask and latex gloves. Maybe she does cut-rate dentistry during slow times of the day?

    • Most Chinese tourist travel overseas in a tour consisting of sitting on a bus to visit as many ‘places of interest’ as possible. Some tour will dump you off at a souvenir shop for a few hours. The tour is cheap because the guide gets a commission for ever overpriced item sold. The experience is rather poor.

      For example, a ‘day tour’ from Sydney to the Blue Mountain will consist of :

      * Three Sisters rock formation
      * Featherdale Wildlife Park
      * Wollem Pine at the Edge Cinema
      * Scenic World
      * Featherdale Wildlife Park

      All of this in ONE DAY. @[email protected]

      For travellers who prefer to go by themselves, the lack of online information for places outside the capital cities makes it difficult.

  4. Australia is loosing because it fails to attract same percentage of new Chinese tourists.

    Number of Chinese tourists visiting Australia doubled between 2007 and 2013 but the total number of Chinese travelling abroad increased almost 4.5 times.

    During the same period number of Chinese tourists travelling to Thailand increased seven times.

      • Yeah, right.

        Australia is considered a racist country when compared to others.

        From my experience Chinese love to travel to charming and friendly places.

        I was told by a Chinese girl not long ago that she would not visit Australia again…. she is currently visiting Thailand and Cambodia – Friendly smiling people with culture, scenery and reasonably priced food.

  5. Maybe when they arrive here in Aus and see all the Chinese here and all the RE offices with Chinese lingo they think the plane was hijacked and they have landed in another undiscovered part of China with a fake Sydney and Melbourne just like their fake Manhattan etc.

  6. I make an effort to be rude to Chinese people whenever I can. I don’t get out of their way when walking, I don’t respond to anything they say, I never engage with Chinese shop owners when I have to purchase something from their shops. This is because I want them to feel at home. Hah! No really, it’s because I’m racist.