BEIJING, March 30 (Xinhua) -- More Chinese travelers are coming to Australia and seeking unique, personalized experiences, according to an authority with Tourism Australia.
"Chinese travelers are more confident, more adventurous, and more experiential, and they are making more local Australian friends as they travel. To me, this is the true spirit of friendship between two countries, manifested through rapid development in tourism exchange," Andy Jiang, China Country Manager of Tourism Australia, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
In a recent trip to South Australia, he met two young Chinese couples travelling through Port Lincoln, a beautiful spot on Eyre Peninsula.
"They were young, full of passion for travel, and were telling me great experiences that they just had -- tasting fresh oysters from the ocean at Coffin Bay, swimming with sea lions at Baird Bay, gazing at beautiful stars at night in the Flinders Ranges," he said.
"What we are seeing are more and more Chinese travelers are now going beyond the gateway cities of Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast, and they are travelling through some of the best regional locations in Australia and are having a fantastic time," he added.
China is by far Australia's fastest growing and highest spending international market, he said. It is also Australia's fourth-biggest market for international business events spending and third-biggest in terms of international business events arrivals, Jiang said.
In 2016, almost 1.2 million Chinese visited Australia and spent over 9 billion U.S. dollars, up 18 percent year on year. The China market has the potential to be worth 13 billion U.S. dollars by 2020.
Many of those driving the growth are affluent and independently-minded travelers who are young, inquisitive and have a sense of adventure. They are interested in the stunning natural resources, art and culture programs in Australia, he noted, adding that these have also become the focus of Australia's marketing campaigns in China.
To attract the country's young tourists, Tourism Australia has taken targeted measures such as using Virtual Reality (VR) and 360 degree videos to provide an immersive experience showing off Australia's aquatic and coastal attractions.
The year 2017 marks the China-Australia Year of Tourism and the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which Jiang believes will be a boost for promoting Australia as an attractive destination.
He pointed out that tourism is an important industry for both countries, bringing jobs and business opportunities to cities and rural communities alike.
As part of initiatives to mark the China-Australia Year of Tourism, Tourism Australia is working to implement a pilot ten-year visa for Chinese travelers, enabling them to apply online in the Chinese language. The milestone policy to open air space has significantly increased flights between China and Australia.
Many tourist attractions in Australia have increased their investment in the outbound Chinese market. For example, the Bridge Climb, a major attraction in Sydney, will launch tailored Mandarin guide services in April this year.
Following Premier Li Keqiang's official visit to Australia last week, the two countries agreed to build on the China-Australia Year of Tourism to organize promotional activities and encourage people-to-people exchanges.
"The more Chinese people visit our nation and the more Australians come here to China, the better we understand each other and the more opportunities we have for further engagement and cooperation at every level," he said.