The Abacus

Free Wi-fi, Chinese breakfasts, and kettles in their rooms: the simple pleasures of the Chinese traveller

By: South China Morning Post

ACBC has often stressed that services exports are different from the traditional ‘rocks and crops’ trade between Australia and China: services have a relational aspect, they require close engagement with their intended consumers, and they succeed or fail based on changing tastes and expectations.

There was an interesting article in the South China Morning Post last week about’s latest ‘Chinese International Travel Monitor’ survey.  They found ‘a big discrepancy between travellers’ expectations and what hoteliers thought they should be investing in.’  Some of the highest ranking requests from the 3000 Chinese tourists surveyed internationally included the availability of a Chinese breakfast, free and fast internet, Mandarin-speaking staff and translated travel guides.

One good sign for Australia was that the Chinese tourists surveyed by said they were more interested in immersive experiences, such as dining and sightseeing, than in shopping.  Our wealth of immersive experiences on offer from the Great Barrier Reef to Kakadu remains a big competitive advantage in this respect.

Many of the surveyed tourists also said they were intending to increase their spending by an average of 10 per cent over the next year.  This is good news in the context of a slowdown in China’s growth and increasing restrictions on capital outflows; but the survey also pointed out that Chinese tourists are eager to use Chinese payment methods when travelling.  There is some movement in Australia on this front: last year Alipay and the Commonwealth Bank signed an MOU to work together on a simple payment solution to allow Chinese tourists and students to use Alipay in-store payments at Australian retailers.  But given that visitor arrivals from China hit one million per year for the first time in 2015, and that by 2025 the number is expected to be two million, we need to move fast.

ACBC’s 2016 report on Chinese tourism, Enter the Dragon: How the China Tourism Boom is Transforming Australia, completed in partnership with LEK Consulting, showed that the potential of Chinese tourism goes far beyond the tourism sector: a large proportion of all Chinese visitors surveyed by LEK Consulting said that they ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ would pursue deeper economic engagement with Australia through either tertiary education (64%), real-estate investment (43%) or business investment (38%).

It is all the more important, then, for our tourism sector, and our services sector more broadly, to continue to increase familiarity with the needs and demands of the Chinese consumer.

The South China Morning Post article can be found here.  The full report can be found here.  ACBC and LEK Consulting’s Enter the Dragon can be found here.





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