There’s no doubt China has, in a large part, been responsible for Australia’s relatively buoyant economy over the last few years.
Would you believe the apartment building boom, heavily funded by the Chinese, has been responsible for a fifth of Australia’s economic growth over the past two years?
But there is another way we can benefit from China’s growing economy…
Chinese tourists spent $US130 billion on their international travels last year – equivalent to the combined GDPs of the world’s 50 smallest countries.
And experts are predicting this armada of tourism dollars will almost double in just three years.
We could become the playground of a new generation of wealthy Chinese
The trend is all-important for Australia as the country’s share of China’s outbound tourism expenditure is about $A6.4 billion annually, making tourism one of Australia’s major exports to the country’s major trading partner.
Moreover, as China’s economy shifts more towards services and away from manufacturing and exports, Chinese visitors are both a renewable and a rapidly growing source of income.
Tourism Australia believes their value to Australia could reach $A13 billion by 2020.
THERE’S NOTHING LIKE AUSTRALIA
In the year to June, 930,000 Chinese short-term visitors arrived in Australia.
In overall terms this does not rank particularly highly as a Chinese tourism destination.
It fails to make the Top 10 list which is dominated by Hong Kong (40 million) and Macau (19 million) and then Thailand and South Korea, which each attract some 4.5 million Chinese visitors annually.
But for Australia it is a key market, ranking second behind only New Zealand, with 1.2 million annual visitors.
And while the number of Kiwi visitors to Australia rose just 18 per cent over the previous decade, Chinese visitor numbers grew by 250 per cent over the same period.
Surveys of Chinese visitors show they feel safe and secure in Australia, appreciate the friendliness of the people and enjoy the natural attractions such as beaches, the Great Barrier Reef, unique wildlife and dolphin and whale watching.
Australia’s casinos are also proving very popular with the region’s big-spending gamblers.
Asian VIP gamblers placed more than $A46 billion in bets at Echo Entertainment’s three Australian casinos in the year to June, up 50 per cent in just one year.
Australia’s two biggest casino operators, Echo and Crown Resorts, are betting on the long-term growth prospects for this market.
Echo plans to fly rich Chinese gamblers directly to the lavish new $A2 billion casino complex it recently won the right to build in Brisbane, which is slated to open in 2022.
Crown’s huge $A2 billion new six-star casino and hotel resort targeting Chinese gamblers is pending planning approval and scheduled to open in Sydney in 2019.
Let’s get it right
Of course there is growing competition from other countries in the region for the Chinese dollar, but if we market ourselves correctly we could become the playground for a whole new generation of Chinese tourists, just as we were for the Japanese in the 1980’s.