- Posted by Christopher Ledsham
- On 3rd June 2016
- australia, ChAFTA, direct flights, Queensland, spending
Having been the largest source of tourism spending in Queensland for the past few years, [tweetable]China has now overtaken New Zealand as the Australian state’s largest source market for international tourist arrivals[/tweetable], reflecting a similar pattern across the country as a whole.
In the year to March 2016, Queensland saw 442,000 Chinese arrivals, which represented a year-on-year growth of almost 30%. Visitors from New Zealand, on the other hand, grew by a more modest 2.3% to a total of 426,000.
In the same period, Chinese tourism expenditure in the state grew by 34% to just over USD 734 million, placing it ahead of over strong performers including the USA (29% YoY expenditure growth), Germany (10%), Japan (9%) and New Zealand (4%). Accordingly, overall spending in Queensland by foreign tourists rose over the past 12 months by 15% to a total of USD 3.67 billion.
Australia is frequently cited as the most desirable destination by High Net Worth Chinese travellers, who spend on average of USD 58,000 per annum on travel. The USD 6.08 billion invested by more than 1 million Chinese tourists in Australia in 2015 accounted for 6% of the growth in the Australian economy during that period.
In May 2016 State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that China Eastern-operated direct flights between Brisbane and Shanghai would finally begin in December 16, 2016. Coming two years after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Brisbane Airport Corporation and the Shanghai Airport Authority, the A330 service will operate on a daily basis, rather than three times per week as initially planned. The route is expected to bring 85,000 additional travellers to Queensland, as well as generating a further USD 39 million in additional income.
As Chinese arrival numbers to Australia continue to grow rapidly each year, Australia’s federal government has taken a number of proactive steps to capitalise on its popularity as a destination for Chinese tourists, students and investors, areas in which Queensland is particularly successful. During April Australia Week In China 2016 (AWIC), the first since the completion of the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull officially recognised the key role that tourism played in the two countries’ bilateral relationship. Turnbull used the opportunity to announce that 2017 would be the Australia-China Year of Tourism and supported this programme with the introduction of new visa policies for Chinese nationals. Not only will Australia be trialling ten-year multi-entry visas for Chinese passport holders, but the number of categories of student visa will be reduced from eight to two, and applications will now be able to be made online in Chinese Mandarin.
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