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The risk of overly relying on China’s outbound travelers is surfacing again, this time in the land Down Under where Chinese arrivals have hit the wall, as our Australia contributor Martin Kelly writes in the report below.
Like many destinations that have massaged growth from China to the point it becomes their main source of arrivals — for some, by far — it’s a reckoning that shouldn’t come as a surprise, yet it does.
Australia should have seen it coming. A 17 percent growth year-over-year in the last 10 years is unsustainable. Besides, it can no longer count itself the first Western destination for Chinese as, in that period, countries from Switzerland to South America have all been courting mainland arrivals with heavy marketing and easier visa processing. Besides, the world has shrunk, with more direct flights linking continents. From Shanghai, it takes over 10 hours to fly to Sydney and over 11 hours to fly to Zurich — not much difference. Australia moreover can no longer claim it has an edge on how to cater to Chinese travelers. On this, too, much of the world has caught up.
Ironically, it appears it’s Australia that has not caught up with much of the world in making it easier for Chinese to get visas. Indian travelers have also complained about Australia’s visa processing issues, as Skift reported recently.
Interestingly, another recurring theme is that India is becoming the buoy that helps keep China-reliant destinations afloat. Like Thailand, Australia is finding India to be a lifesaver. In the year ending March 2019, India posted the strongest growth of 15 percent to 343,000 visitors, spending a record $1.2 billion (A$1.7 billion), compared to the same period a year ago.
But as destinations readjust their targets and marketing budgets for India, it bears repeating that one must never get too attached to any one market.
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Australia’s China Travel Slump: A Blip or Something Bigger? After years of phenomenal growth, Chinese inbound tourism has hit the wall in Australia. It’s a pivotal moment for an industry that has enjoyed a golden run over the past decade. The question now is what does the future hold for Australia’s international tourism industry? For now, the answer is far from clear.
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Australia Looks to Diversify Beyond Chinese Travelers Under Its New Tourism Boss: The head of Tourism Australia has the right training, for sure, as Australia seeks to increase foreign arrivals. She was overseeing its international offices and knows only too well that there is more competition for the global wallet.
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Asia Editor Raini Hamdi [firstname.lastname@example.org] curates the Skift Asia Weekly newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.