As Victoria again enjoys the colour and movement of Chinese New Year, it’s important to reflect on the ties that bind our two nations. Tourism provides a great opportunity to further strengthen these ties, and it is important that our industry recognises this and adapts its product to resonate with Chinese visitors.
At an individual operator level, it is essential for our industry to tailor its product to appeal to the Chinese tourist. Tourism Australia has conducted some useful consumer research on the Chinese market, available here.
Travelling for leisure, business and visiting friends and relatives are the key purposes of visit for the Chinese traveller, and Victoria must position itself favourably to attract more Chinese visitors. Completion of the proposed extension of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre would help, as would the attraction of more Chinese students to our reputable tertiary institutions.
Victoria has many competitive advantages that make it appeal to the Chinese visitor – our wide open spaces, well developed nature-based product and long standing historical ties (which are demonstrated so beautifully at this time of year). We must capitalise on these and ensure government and industry work effectively together, building on Tourism Victoria’s 2012 China Strategy and relationships fostered at last year’s Super Trade Mission to China.
Industry must ensure it keeps the needs of Chinese tourists front of mind and builds these into its forward planning – including employing bilingual staff, training employees on Chinese culture and ensuring it has appropriate menu options available.
While historically, Europe and New Zealand have been the dominant sources of international visitation to Victoria, there is a seismic shift towards Asian markets – particularly China – as these regions enjoy growing economic success.
According to Tourism Research Australia, there were more than 280,000 Chinese visitors to Victoria in the year ending September 2012, representing an 18 per cent increase on the previous year. Chinese visitors spent more than eight million visitor nights in Victoria in the year ending September 2012. In the year ending June 2012, Chinese visitors spent $905 million in our state, making them the highest yielding international market. Tourism Victoria forecasts Chinese visitation to our state could be worth $2 billion annually by 2020.
May the Year of the Snake be one of health, wealth, happiness and even stronger ties between Victoria and China!