Experts from Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Griffith University said Australia should push to attract tourists from its traditional markets as Chinese interest wanes.
CDU sThe senior lecturer in economics, Dr. Maneka Jayasinghe said new research shows that word of mouth and repeat visits are the main drivers of Australian tourism. Therefore, efforts should be made to develop traditional tourism markets.
The study by scientists from the CDU and Griffith University, published in tourism economics, recommended this re-engagement as Chinese tourism numbers were expected to decline. Over the past decade, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Australia has increased by about 15 percent annually, rising from 353,000 a decade ago to 1.44 million in 2019.
In 2018, about 15.5 percent of tourists to Australia came from China, edging out New Zealand (15 percent) at the top.
“The growth rate was declining drastically and almost stagnating even before the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jayasinghe said.
“It will get worse because of the political and economic tensions between Australia and China.”
Jayasinghe of the Asia Pacific College of Business and Law said tourism is a highly political phenomenon.
The study looked at the top 20 source countries over the past two decades and found that for every 1% growth in visitors in a country, there was an additional 0.3% growth the following year.
“This indicates that tourists are having good experiences and are visiting Australia again or sharing their positive perception of Australia with other potential visitors,” Jayasinghe said.
Another lead author of the study, Griffith University’s pProfessor Saroja Selvanathansaid the study shows that despite the slowdown in the growth of tourists from Chinese markets, the Chinese migrant population in Australia should be enough to attract Chinese tourists.
“This study finds that despite deteriorating China-Australia political relations, the stock of Chinese migrants in Australia would continue to help increase the number of Chinese tourists in Australia,” Selvanathan said.
“One of the study’s recommendations to increase the shortage of Chinese tourist arrivals in Australia is that the Australian tourism industry target the growing middle-income classes in other emerging markets such as India and Indonesia.”
The study also suggested that Australia’s tourism industry should reconnect with traditionally strong markets to capitalize on any goodwill.
Featured image: Four young Chinese tourists on a bridge in Melbourne – iStock/allensima