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Tourism industry rejoices in the imminent return of Chinese tour groups


Australia’s reinstatement as an approved groups destination clears the path for China to reclaim its status as a leading source market.

L-R Peter Shelly, ATEC; Margy Osmond, TTF and James Goodwin, AAA

Inbound tourism has received a strong shot in the arm from China, which has reinstated Australia on its Approved Destination Status (ADS) scheme for the first time since national borders reopened.

Following the recent launch of Tourism Australia’s multi-million-dollar ‘Come and Say G’Day’ campaign in China, the campaign’s lead primary television commercial has been viewed 66 million times across all channels.

The reapproval of Australia as a group tour destination is now set to play a major role in the stabilisation of relations with the Asian powerhouse, with the Australian government committing to working with its Chinese counterparts to facilitate a swift return of inbound Chinese tour groups.

Chinese airlines have been gradually ramping up services since Chinese borders reopened at the beginning of 2023, with China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Air China, Xiamen Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Tianjin Airlines all now flying at least one nonstop service per week from China to Australia.

Australia's inbound tourism industry is universally welcoming the return of Chinese tour groups.

Prior to the pandemic, Australia welcomed 1.4 million travellers from China, who collectively added $2.1 billion to the economy, of which $581 million came from ADS group tours.

The news was welcomed by leading inbound advocacy body, the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), with Managing Director Peter Shelley describing it as a major boost for local tourism businesses which have built up expertise in catering to Chinese travellers in recent years.

“As a major inbound market for Australian export tourism pre-COVID, we welcome the reinstatement of our status on the ADS list and the opportunities it brings to tourism businesses across the country,” Shelley said.

“For those businesses with ADS approval who were previously focused on this market, there is a keen desire to get back to welcoming the Chinese visitor.”

Tourism Transport Forum CEO, Margy Osmond, said China’s decision would be a relief for tourism operators across the country.

Chinese tourists spent centre.1 billion in Australia in 2019.

“We’re incredibly excited to welcome back even more Chinese visitors. The immediate return of group tours from China to Australia will help our sector recover,” Osmond said.

“Since borders reopened, Chinese visitors have been slow to return to Australia, with tourist numbers struggling to reach even half of pre-Covid levels.

“We’ve been working hard to try and entice more Chinese visitors to come to Australia, with mass campaigns like Tourism Australia’s Ruby the Roo, but the lack of guided tour groups has been a major barrier.”

Australian Airports Association CEO James Goodwin said the Chinese government’s decision would also be a boost to the aviation sector.

“It is an important step to encourage more travellers from China into Australia,” Goodwin said.

“Australian airports are ready to support the tourism recovery and here to help government attract and grow international tourism.”

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Written by: Matt Lennon
Published: 10 August 2023

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