Visitor numbers surging but offering has to be right (II)

Published on 2016-12-05

Unique experiences

This need to craft more individual experiences is a reflection of the maturing Chinese consumer market. Gone are the days when the majority of Chinese visitors would head to Australia on a group package deal and try to fit in as much as possible. While this market segment is still strong, there has been a significant shift in the way Chinese consumers are travelling.

In the past few years, 60 per cent of Chinese visitors have been independent travellers, and they have increased their level of spending by 27 per cent in the past year alone.

"What we're seeing [is] more independent travellers who want unique experiences. We're now seeing them disperse into regional areas, and this is translating into a greater demand for self-drive holidays. Chinese travellers want more flexible holidays. They want to get out closer to nature."

As for why Australia still ranks so highly in the mind of the Chinese consumer, Ronson says we are perceived as secure, safe and clean.

"Our nature and wildlife are a drawcard, but so is our different food and wine. Chinese tourists want unique experiences, so they're coming here for a combination of reasons.

"The key for us is to break down Australia into bite-size chunks so visitors keep returning. They don't try to see the destination all at once, they come to visit many times."

Infrastructure goals

Importantly, by delivering a greater diversity of unique experiences, Ronson believes Chinese visitors become great advocates of Australia and share their experiences on social media. This also translates into multiple visits.

To  continue capitalising on the Chinese tourism boom, we need to ensure we have the right infrastructure in place. In recent years, we have increased our aviation capacity by 26 per cent with a lot more flights servicing Chinese cities and flying directly into Australian cities outside of the major hubs.

We're also addressing the nation's need for more hotel rooms with the goal of 20,000 new hotel rooms by 2020 [part of Tourism Australia's 2020 strategy] on track," Ronson says.

"And finally, we really need to make the [tourist] visa application process simpler because [at the moment] it's perceived that it's a lot easier to get a visa from the US or UK."