Tourism Australia’s managing director Phillipa Harrison landed in
Guangzhou last week to lead a charm offensive that the NTO hopes will
entice Chinese travellers back to Australia.
Relations between China and Australia have been frosty for a while
and despite a recent thaw Harrison and her team face a challenge to
overcome the impact of diplomatic tensions on leisure and business
travel between the two countries.
Speaking at an industry briefing in Sydney before departing for
China, Harrison said Tourism Australia had been “buoyed by the reopening
of China, a real game changer for Australia”.
“China was our largest market in terms of visitation and spend and we
know we won’t recover until we realise that potential. It’s a challenge
Tourism Australia and the travel industry in Australia are ready for,”
Tourism Australia hopes its 'Don’t Go Small, Go Australia' campaign
will drive Chinese travellers’ desire to visit friends and relatives,
after three years of pandemic restrictions.
“These meetings [in China], and this initial campaign, will be
crucial as we build up to the launch of a major campaign in China in the
middle of the year,” Harrison said.
Before the pandemic, 1.4 million Chinese tourists visited Australia
each year, accounting for 15% of the market. Tourism Australia estimates
that Chinese demand will not return to that level until 2026.
Harrison said Chinese tourists could now apply for visas online and the agency would also launch a bespoke WeChat programme.
According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data,
international arrivals to Australia in December 2022 were at 60% of
December 2019 arrivals. That's a significant increase on March 2022,
when international arrivals were at just 20% of the number recorded in
the same month in 2019.