The Northern Territory is one of Australia's most popular tourist destinations. Image Cameron McCool
The Northern Territory is one of Australia's most popular tourist destinations. Image Cameron McCool
20 June 2011

An international expert has highlighted the importance of the Chinese tourism market at a recent symposium hosted by The University of Queensland.

Professor Wolfgang Arlt, Director of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, revealed that by 2015, China is likely to become the number one international tourism source market in the world. From 1995 to 2010, global tourism figures increased by 73% while the Chinese figure grew by an incredible 815%.

With the Australian tourism industry providing more than half a million jobs and generating $34 billion in revenue, capturing a portion of this rapidly growing market could have a significant effect on the nation’s economy.

Professor Arlt said the Australian tourism industry will have to adapt quickly to this opportunity by ensuring quality and customised services and infrastructure, and increased awareness of Chinese tourists’ cultural requirements.

Affluent and well-travelled customers below the age of 45 (known as “New Chinese Tourists”) are also becoming an increasingly lucrative niche market.

Nell Anderson, General Manager Strategy & Research at Tourism Australia said in the last year 453,800 Chinese visitors travelled to Australia, a year-on-year increase of 24 per cent.

"China is an ‘overnight success story’ which has been 12 years in the making! Since being the first western country to be awarded Approved Destination Status (ADS) for group leisure travel back in 1999, we’ve put a huge amount of effort into developing the China market, the benefits of which are now being seen,” Ms Anderson said.

Tourism Australia has developed the 2020 China Strategic Plan to realise the industry potential of this booming market and ensure our national tourism industry is adequately prepared.

“The plan identifies the key opportunities that will help Australia win market share and grow the China travel market to as much as $9.5 billion in overnight expenditure and 860,000 visitors annually by 2020,” Ms Anderson said.

More than ninety academics and industry experts from Australia, China and New Zealand attended the symposium, hosted by the UQ School of Tourism, to share the latest research insights, identify potential opportunities and challenges, and future research needs related to Chinese tourism.

“Information is vital to better inform business and government planning to take advantage of the opportunities China can provide,” symposium convenor Associate Professor Brent Ritchie said.

“Universities need to take a leadership role to help address existing and evolving industry needs through research.”

Media: Claire Shuter (07 3346 9259,