Since Australia became the first Western country (along with New Zealand) to receive the advantageous ‘approved destination status’ 被批准的旅游目的地国家 for Chinese overseas travellers in 1999, the value of Chinese tourism to Australia has increased by approximately fifteen percent annually. China has become the second-largest source of foreign visitors to Australia and Chinese tourists are the biggest per-visitor spenders, averaging A$6789 per trip compared to A$4500 for other overseas visitors. In 2014, 784,000 Chinese visited Australia and contributed A$5.7 billion to the local economy. Tourism Australia’s 2011 ‘China 2020 Strategic Plan’ identified China as the single most important country for the growth of the Australian tourism industry.

Tourism Australia has trained over 6000 Australia specialist travel agencies throughout China, produced a Chinese TV miniseries (Heartbeat Love 再一次心跳) to advertise Australia, and used Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s 2014 state visit to China [topic page link] to announce a major advertising campaign. Domestically, it has urged tourism operators to become more ‘China ready’ amidst increasingly fierce international competition for the Chinese tourist dollar. Chinese staff, food, signage, television, newspapers, gambling facilities and cultural training are becoming more prevalent at Australian hotels, airports and attractions. The Australian government has moved to encourage increased flights and simplify visa arrangements for Chinese visitors.

Research suggests that Australia is an ‘aspirational’ destination for the Chinese ‘urban elite’ because of its natural beauty, excellent climate, high quality of life, luxury shopping, legal gambling and prospects for education and migration. Many Chinese tourists are visiting family or friends already living or studying in Australia. Over sixty percent of the time Chinese visitors spend in Australia is in Sydney or Melbourne, but visits to the Gold Coast and Great Barrier Reef are also common. While Chinese tourism remains mostly urban and mediated through organised tours, Tourism Australia is also encouraging higher-spending independent travellers, luxury shoppers, regional travellers and those who see Australia as a culinary destination.

China is becoming an increasingly popular destination for Australians too, with 770,000 travelling to China and spending a total of A$1 billion in 2013, making China the fastest-growing destination for Australian tourists. The most popular destinations are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an and Guilin. Australian tastes have prompted some Chinese airlines to change their inflight menus and hire Australian flight attendants for Australia–China routes.

Increasing two-way tourism has led to a proliferation of new direct flight routes between Australia and China, led by Chinese carriers such as Air China, China Eastern, Sichuan Airlines and China Southern. Qantas has signed a code share deal with China Southern and is close to forming an alliance with China Eastern.

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement agreed in November 2014 promises to deepen the bilateral tourism relationship: Australia will grant 5000 working holiday visas for Chinese annually; Australian companies will be able to build and operate wholly-owned hotels and restaurants in China; and, Australian travel agents and tour operators will be able to establish subsidiary operations in China.


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  • Tourism’, Australia China Beyond Tomorrow, 20 January 2011.

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