“The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!” (And coming … and coming …)

The Chinese are coming.When Paul Revere famously rode through American communities announcing the arrival of the ‘redcoats’ it was scary news.

But people are much happier about the huge numbers of arrivals of Chinese tourists.

The vast outflow of cashed up Chinese tourists is the news story of the tourism industry in the last year or so.

And the figures in Australia – and Victoria especially – are simply staggering.

Clearly the opportunity for savvy local businesses is very substantial indeed.

  • According to the China Tourism Research Academy, in 2015 Chinese travellers made 117 million foreign trips and spent more than US$105 billion on tourism related activities.
  • The trend can only grow. Within ten years, there will be 100 million Chinese passport holders.
  • 640 million Chinese use the Internet. Many of them use it to research holiday destinations. Over 80% of all Chinese outbound travellers use some form of digital device for planning and booking holidays.
  • About half of the Chinese visitors to Australia come to Melbourne, the most popular destination in Australia among the nearly 2 million visitors for the year ending November 2016. Chinese nationals already account for 21% of international visitors to the State.
  • Holiday travel, specifically, was up 37.8%.
  • This is facilitated by growing air links into Tullamarine. Increases in direct flights to Melbourne by key airlines, including new direct flights from Tier 2 cities (eg. Kunming, Hangzhou and Wuhan) provide good potential for growth in arrivals. Melbourne Airport reported China as its number one visitor market, with 820,000 Chinese residents passing through the airport in the 12 months to July 2016.
  • By 2024-5, fully one-quarter of international visitors to Australia will be from China.
  • Chinese visitors spent 13.3 visitor nights in Victoria in the year ending March 2016.
  • In the year ending December 2015, 42% of Chinese overnight leisure visitors to Victoria spent time in the Great Ocean Road region and/or the Twelve Apostles (the highest percentage of Chinese visitors in regional Victoria) Chinese visitation is also continuing to drive tourism in the Ballarat/Goldfields region, with data showing Chinese markets make up 11% of total overnight visitors (year ending Dec 2016), which was a 24% rise on the previous year.
  • With the Chinese economy forecast to grow by a healthy if not spectacular 6.3% this financial year, and 6.1% next year, clearly this is a trend that will continue.
  • Small groups of so-called “fully independent travellers” (say 4-8 people) are growing as a percentage of the overall figures, and travellers are increasingly younger, wealthier, better educated, urban, and technologically skilled especially in social media.
  • SinaWeibo – a popular hybrid of Twitter and Facebook – is used daily by over 50 million bloggers, and is linking users to roughly 400,000 companies in the tourism industry, with a possibility for them to target specific Chinese travellers whom have requested to receive daily updates for popular destinations.
  • Assisting repeat visitation, Chinese visitors to Australia are now eligible for 10- year multiple-entry visas, allowing Australia to compete more effectively with destinations including the US and Europe. Many Chinese visitors come to Australia more than once.

Quite clearly, this is a “sea change” in tourist behaviour. What does it mean to you? Here is a useful checklist.

  1. Consider whether you need Mandarin-speaking staff in your restaurant or tourism outlet.
  2. Are you suitably represented by travel professionals in China?
  3. You need to create strategic alliances with other tourism operators who are doing a good job of entertaining our Chinese guests. Become part of networks that are servicing the demand effectively and efficiently.
  4. Ramp up your social media presence – in China.
  5. Make your collateral material – signs, leaflets, videos – Mandarin-friendly.

As John O’Sullivan, Managing Director of Tourism Australia said:

Never look a gift horse in the mouth. This is a great opportunity for Australia. It’s ours to lose if we don’t get it right.

Magnum Opus Partners are specialists in Tourism and Tourism-related strategic and marketing matters. If you would like to know whether your communications and strategies are suited to the new reality, and you are well placed to offer a warm welcome to Chinese visitors, then please give us a call on +613 9426 5400.

MOPAnd just a thought.

There are still relatively few Australians visiting China for holidays. And when they do they tend to stick to the most major cities and tried and tested locations like the Great Wall.

And yet China has some magnificent rural and mountain scenery, superb 5-star beach resorts, every major hotel chain represented, good internal communications and travel options, and so on.

So we have two linked questions:

A resort in Sanya.
A resort in Sanya.

Why do so few Aussies know about what’s on offer?

Why don’t Chinese resorts and operators target advertising and marketing to Australian consumers wanting a good value and “different” holiday experience.

We honestly can’t recall ever seeing an ad for Dujiangyan, Fujang, Sanya and Hangzhou?

Have you?

After all, we can all visit Bali, Phuket and Hoi An only so many times …

Over to you, Chinese partners. Our phone number is above.

Author: Stephen Yolland

Director of Creative Strategy and Partner @ Magnum Opus Partners.

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