AUSTRALIA’S China 2020 Strategic Plan is already yielding results, and the country will build on this by introducing a number of new initiatives in the coming year.
From the second half of this year, Australian sellers can tap on a A$600,000 (US$608,170) Welcome Chinese Visitors grant, intended to offer training and support to businesses interested in becoming China-ready.
From July 1, enhancements will be made to Australia’s Approved Destination Status (ADS) scheme, including the implementation of a perpetual ADS scheme authorisation for approved inbound tour operators to reduce administrative burden.
In addition, Tourism Australia has begun translating all product information on its digital platform, the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse, into simplified Chinese. The NTO is also developing an online tool for tourism operators that will enable visitors to book online. In addition, creation of a China-hosted consumer website is also in the works.
Meanwhile, Tourism Australia managing director, Andrew McEvoy, revealed that the destination was tracking above its 2020 goal for China in terms of air access. In the first two years of the plan, number of international seats grew by 7.5 per cent a year – above the 5.5 per cent targeted – while number of domestic seats increased by four per cent a year, more than the two per cent needed.
Suppliers have also started to reap some gains on the back of their efforts.
Accor, which introduced an accredited Optimum Service Standards programme catering to Chinese visitors during last year’s Australian Tourism Exchange, recorded a 23 per cent year-on-year spike in bookings from China during the first five months of 2012.
Said Accor business development manager-leisure, Kate Marshall: “We’ve won quite a few pieces of big incentive business because of the accreditation standards, such as a couple on the Gold Coast.
“People have this perception that the Chinese market is cheap, but it’s changing very quickly. It’s incentive business, FIT, government delegations.”
Some 31 of Accor’s hotels in Australia are already Chinese-accredited, and the number will swell to 50 by year-end.
The high-end brands of Sofitel and Pullman were doing really well with the market, added Marshall.
Shirley Dodt, director, leisure sales, Rendezvous Hospitality Group, said while the company had yet to launch any comprehensive programme specific to China, it was “trying to be China ready” and “developing what (it) could be fully doing for that market”.
“China is definitely growing, especially for our hotels in Sydney and Melbourne. We’ll be focusing on business and government groups and incentives. We’ve just appointed a new director of MICE for the Group,” she added.