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Of the one million Chinese tourists who currently visit Australia, 51% come to Victoria. This number is set to more than double over the next decade and businesses should be positioning themselves now to be ready for this great opportunity. We need to prepare ourselves by formulating high quality tourist experiences, training staff for increased levels of service, and building infrastructure to cater for the demands of these sophisticated international travellers from China.
ACBC members, Maddocks, hosted the LEK Tourism Report forum on 16 November in their new Melbourne headquarters where this and other findings from LEK's research were discussed.
The Senior Partner and Chairman of LEK Consulting, Dr Simon Bartlett, highlighted that the tourism sector plays an important role in the context of the entire Australian economy as it acts as an onramp; bridging businesses with other trade opportunities. These trade opportunities boost other related sectors, such as real estate investment, business investment, permanent migration, international students, as well as driving a stronger preference for Australian products in China. The LEK Report shows that Chinese visitors are the biggest spending visitors in Australia, and that between 2005 and 2015 growth per annum of Chinese visitors to Australia increased from 6 per cent to 19 per cent.
Simon noted that tourist visits to Australia have a very strong influence on the decisions of Chinese visitors to pursue deeper economic engagement with Australia, and this potential value is so large that it dwarfs tourism value. Simon ended his speech by indicating the need for Australia to improve its infrastructure and regulations surrounding the tourism sector. Simon’s keynote speech was followed by an informative and thought-provoking question and answer session where questions were opened to the floor.
The Q&A session was moderated by ACBC National Board Member, Ms Jingmin Qian. Simon was joined on the panel by Ms Lisa Patroni Head of International Tourism, PR, Government & Community at the Victoria Racing Club, Ms Karen Bolinger CEO of the Melbourne Convention Bureau, Mr Simon Gandy Chief of Aviation, Melbourne Airport. When queried on the new 10-year tourist visa, Dr Barrett hailed the new visa reform as a terrific innovation. He stated that the newly-authorized Mandarin language Australian tourist visa applications are a step in the right direction for improving regulations, so that Australia is better prepared to capitalise on the economic potential the tourism industry offers. In response to a question on how the growth in the tourism sector will change employment opportunities, Karen highlighted that a plethora of new career opportunities are opened, especially as Australia’s economy transitions to a service-based economy post-mining boom.
The event concluded with closing remarks and a vote of thanks by Virginia. ACBC Victoria would like to extend our gratitude to Maddocks for hosting the event. We thank Simon Barrett for his keynote speech, as well as our panellists for their insightful discussion. Thanks also to Jingmin for acting as the moderator and for travelling from Sydney to participate. We also extend our thanks to all those who attended and we very much look forward to revisiting this topic in 2017, the International Year of Tourism and Sustainable Development.