Australia urged to do more to welcome Chinese visitors as numbers soar

by Ray Clancy on November 24, 2017

in Australia Travel

The number of people visiting Australia continues to grow with most arriving for a holiday as 7.3% more took a vacation in the 12 months to September 2017 than in the previous year.

Figures show that that in September alone there were 663,500 visitor arrivals, a rise of 2.6% compared to the same month in 2016.

China and Australia Flags

(David Carillet/Shutterstock.com)

And in the 12 months to September there were 8.7 million visitors, a rise of 7.4% on the previous year, led by people arriving for a holiday.

China is leading the growth with 1,364,700 visitors over the 12-month period and there has also been a rise in visitors from other Asian countries with numbers up 15.3% from India and up 13.3% from Hong Kong.

A new report suggests that with an increasing number of people from China visiting Australia, more needs to be done to welcome them, in particular when it comes to language.

Australia needs to boost the learning of Mandarin, provide more Chinese language signs, improve its airports and ensure its visa processes are quick and easy, according to a report from international management consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting.

‘Investment must go towards ensuring that Chinese visitors to Australia have not just a positive experience, but an excellent one. A frequent lack of signage and customer service in Chinese suggests a need for more education in the language for Australians not of a Chinese background,’ the report says.

The report, based on extensive interviews with Chinese visitors and senior executives from across the tourism, trade and related sectors, shows there is a lot more work to do if Australia is to capture the full value from the Chinese tourism boom.

It points out that the kind of visitor from China is changing with more independent travellers and many are return travellers seeking a high quality experience with more wanting to take part in active, outdoor activities. The introduction of a 10-year visa for Chinese citizens last year is also boosting numbers.

Research also suggests that a lot of Chinese people are tourists, but around 20% are visiting family and friends, 13% are students and around 9% are in the country on business.

Tourism Australia is actively encouraging businesses in the industry to gear up for Chinese visitors. It suggests that hotels can consider employing Mandarin speaking front desk staff or offering Chinese TV channels or newspapers as well as restaurants providing Chinese food options or translated menus.

‘Many of these measures seem pretty simple, but they are also highly symbolic gestures that say welcome,’ said John O’Sullivan, managing director of Tourism Australia.

According to Margy Osmond, chief executive officer of the Tourism and Transport Forum Australia the record breaking run of international visitor arrivals confirms the importance of the visitor economy as Australia’s next super growth sector.

She warned against complacency and urged the industry to make sure there is further investment in destination marketing ‘to ensure that our tourism sector continues its current golden run well into the future’.

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