Asian markets have been a significant driving force behind Australian tourism in 2014-15. India, China and Malaysia have all seen economic growth, which are key drivers for inbound tourism to our great nation. With these economies expected to grow further in the coming years, we ask if Australia could become the number one tourist destination of Asia, with a focus on China, and what this might look like for local Aussies.

Inbound tourism from Asian markets

Holiday makers from China and India visited Australia more in 2014-15 than in previous years, which is likely due to the Lunar New Year, and major sporting events such as the Cricket World Cup and the Asian Football Cup. Spending by 207,000 Indian visitors surpassed $1 billion dollars for the first time this year, with these tourists typically staying over two months in Australia.

The number of Chinese visitors hit 864,000 in the previous year, spending around $7 billion whilst here. Other Asian markets have also seen growth, with visitors from Singapore, Malaysia and Japan all spending more than $1.1 billion whilst on holiday here.

With Chinese visitors reportedly spending $21 million per day one month in 2015, looking at what these tourists want from a holiday could provide us with some clues as to how Australia might cater to this market in the future. You may ask, how do Australians benefit by getting more people to holiday in our country? Tourism Victoria offers an explanation:

  • Economical. Tourists collectively spend millions every day they’re in Australia, which is fed right back into our economy. This money benefits Aussies everywhere.
  • Employment. Tourism helps create new businesses and industries based on demand (e.g. tour bus operators, hotel chains), and that means more jobs for our citizens.
  • Development. If our infrastructure can’t handle an influx of visitors, then we need to invest in it to ensure it remains attractive to holidayers everywhere. This may mean things like better public transport, new shopping malls, maybe even a new museum exhibit will benefit Aussies and tourists equally.

There are also several societal benefits to building tourism. Chiefly, we can develop a sense of pride in our community by showing it to the world, and begin to disseminate our cultural story. In short, there are countless good reasons why we should be encouraging nations like China to visit out shores. produce a report titled the Chinese International Travel Monitor every year, which looks at the typical Chinese traveler: who they are and what they are looking for. As a nation, China has a population of over 1.36 billion, and while only 5% hold passports, this still equates to nearly 70 million people. Additionally, disposable income in China grew by almost 11% in 2013, meaning the potential for growth in global tourism markets is substantial. According to the report, 97% of Chinese travelers depart for leisure purposes. Australia ranks as the number 1 wish list destination, but only 15th for where Chinese tourists actually go.

The top 5 ‘must haves’ for Chinese travelers

  • Safety
  • Historical and heritage sites
  • Cuisine
  • Value for money
  • Shopping

According to the Global Peace Index 2015, Australia ranks as the ninth safest country globally. This certainly bodes well for Chinese visitors that value safety, but Australia may not rank as well for historical interest sites compared with areas of Europe, or be as great for shopping as the big cities in the United States.

As for value for money, Australia did top the Deutsche Bank’s annual world consumer price index for 2014, hitting the top of the list of most expensive countries, which may make a trip here somewhat pricey. As for cuisine, there’s nothing quite so well established as our local fish and chip shops scattered across the coastline of Australia.

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The top 5 must do attractions for Chinese tourists are:

  • Sightseeing
  • Dining
  • Shopping
  • Visiting beaches
  • Museums and Galleries

There are certainly many beautiful sights to see in Australia, even if some can be a little inaccessible due to the great distances between them. With visiting beaches in the top 5, there are few countries with so much stunning coastline to offer as ours. It’s not too difficult to imagine that sightseeing can be difficult for a non-English speaking tourist visiting Australia; this article points to the lack of signage, and poor infrastructure as two areas where improvements need to be made to make Australia look more attractive.

Top 5 most requested hotel facilities

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Kettle
  • Smoking room
  • Chinese TV
  • Translated travel guides

70% of hotels already offer free Wi-Fi, but there is a disparity between some of the other services. 17% of travelers request Chinese TV programs and translated tourism guides, but only 13% of hotels even plan to offer these services in the future.

Looking at the results, it’s clear that Chinese tourists want to visit Australia, as the stunning natural beauty and safety offered is attractive. However, there is a shortfall between what visitors expect, and actually providing specific services to these visitors.

How Australia may change in the future to cater to these tourist markets

There are both governmental and local changes happening in Australia to cater to Asian tourism markets, and these will likely only increase in the next few years. According to this article from the Sydney Morning Herald, a common view is that Australia needs an upgrade to cater to what Chinese visitors expect. This can be government investment in infrastructure and policy, all the way down to hotels providing services to make travelling easier.

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Working holiday visas for the Chinese

From September up to 5,000 Chinese people can apply for a Work and Holiday visa in Australia, making it even easier for young Chinese people to visit Australia. According to this article from, the quota for the visa was filled within 9 hours of applications opening, so demand is certainly high.

Changes in public places

Signage in Chinese and other Asian languages could start appearing at tourist hot spots, and those who want to attract high spenders might look to add a drop of Chinese to the languages spoken by staff. Infrastructure improvement could begin to cater to these new markets, making airports and other transportation services more accessible in key areas.

Changes in the accommodation industry

Accor hotels have already included services such as welcome kits in specific languages, Chinese cuisine, TV channels and newspapers, but as this article shows, many other countries are competing with their own improvements. Other Australian businesses may begin to cater to what these Asian visitors desire, so locals may see more Chinese material, and updates to buildings and technologies.

How tourism could change Australia

Australia will likely see more and more visitors from Asian countries over the next few years as the government and private businesses strive to compete with other popular destinations. For the everyday Australian this could mean seeing more and more languages on signage, new hotels popping up offering services tailored to their high spending clientele, and a renewal of public spaces to compete with other nations that are already providing these things. Technology will likely be a driving force, with free Wi-Fi spots and dedicated apps helping tourists find their way around. The tourism landscape in Australia will certainly change in the next few years, and with it there will be changes that could benefit all of us.


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