The Joint Efforts and People’s Support for China-Australia Tourism Cooperation

2017-11-24 09:49:35       Size:[L  M  S]

Keynote speech at the Third East-West Dialogue on Tourism and the Chinese Dream 

(Nov.24, 2017, the Gold Coast, Australia)

Dear colleagues and friends,

Good morning!

It is my great pleasure to witness that in the past ten years there were significant achievements in China-Australia tourism exchanges. This could be a noticeable sample or case either in the framework of bilateral trading and cultural exchanges or in the view of world tourism development. From 2007 to 2016, as many as 7.3661 million Chinese citizens visited Australia, with an average annual growth of 14%. Especially in 2016, Chinese tourist spending in Australia amounted to 5.27 billion US dollar, and Australian tourist spending in China was 1.588 billion US dollar. The comprehensive contribution of tourist spending to service trading growth and employment was increasing. Recently, Chinese outbound tourism market returned to a new stage of steady development with a medium and low growth rate. Yet in the former three seasons of this year, there were still 1.161 million Chinese tourists to Australia, with a year-on-year growth of 16.1%. In the past ten years, the number of Chinese tourists to Australia kept increasing to a total of 6.608 million; and the growth rate again returned to the level of more than 10% in the former three seasons of this year.  

Well, I think I should stop talking data now. Or if I continue to list a series of data, this speech may sound like that given at a press conference for releasing statistics report. Here I would like to suggest that experts and scholars could interpret those data professionally from multiple angles such as politics, economics, and cultural studies, or those data could be the basis for experience review or and tendency prediction.    

China-Australia tourism cooperation is always developed under the framework of comprehensive strategic partnership between the two Countries, and practical and in-depth tourism cooperation effectively stimulates the joint efforts for maintaining the partnership. Since China and Australia established diplomatic relation in forty-five years ago, the partnership has been strengthening in mutual respect and parallel advance while overcoming the differences in national situation and political system. In the past eight years, China had been Australia’s first and largest trading partner. On 22 March of this year, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang published in The Australian a signed article entitled We Want to Work with You for Progress and Peace, in which Premier Li pointed out that the Asia-Pacific is where China survives and thrives, and it is also the common home of China and Australia. It is Premier Li’s hope that our two sides could take the China-Australia Year of Tourism as an opportunity to further facilitate two-way flows of people. Yes, China and Australia enhance mutual political trust, preserve the divergence, and establish economic and trading cooperation. Particularly in recent years, the leaders of the two Countries met with each other frequently at bilateral and multilateral meetings. This greatly promoted China-Australia partnership, as well as played a key role in the two-way flows of people including tourists. 

Two months ago, at the Australian Embassy in China I held a specialized talk with the tourism administrators at the Federal level and regional level, and I was asked what was my opinion about the influence of social media on tourist’s choice of a destination. I replied that it was undeniable that the influence of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, MicroBlog, and WeChat on tourist’s choice of a destination became more and more outstanding, especially on younger tourists; or if taking the effects of audio-visual shows and those of public events on social media, the influence was unimaginable. However, the influence of social media, how matter we emphasize it, cannot replace the basic role of mainstream media and the key role of high-level interaction, let alone the decisive role of joint efforts and diplomatic relation. In the past ten years, Chinese outbound tourism market grew in a high speed. No tourist destination could neglect the generating of Chinese outbound tourists. More and more tourism promotion budgets were accounted for effectively attracting Chinese tourists in South Korea, Japan, The Philippines and other ASEAN Countries, India and other south Asian Countries, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, as well as Australia and New Zealand. Nevertheless, Chinese tourist’s choice of destination would be immediately and detectably transformed when the Chinese government expressed the attitude toward a relevant event, or the People’s Daily, CCTV, or the Xinhua News Agency had voices on the event. Or even some movie stars and celebrities would call to their fans, by which the choice of destination might be changed. But the information search and service demand would be quickly stimulated when the diplomatic relation between China and the destination Country or Region was improved, or when a high-level visit was effectively made. From this point, the most influential factor in Chinese tourist’s choice of a destination is the strategic position of China’s diplomatic relation with a destination Country or Region; and the high-level mutual visit is the most profitable intellectual property (IP), the Key Opinion Leader (KOL), or the “Internet celebrity”.     

China-Australia tourism exchanges are always based on the support of people at both sides, and extensive tourism exchanges will further strengthen such support. China Tourism Academy and National Tourism Data Center carried out Chinese outbound tourist satisfaction degree survey in the twenty-seven major destination Countries or Regions in fifteen consecutive months, which showed that Australia ranked among the top five in the twenty-seven destinations, and the average score of satisfaction index in Australia was seventy-eight. Typically, Chinese tourists gave comments on Australia as “a good place for enjoying sunshine, experiencing the charm of nature, going outdoor exploration, or leading an easy life”, or “a very beautiful Country and very friendly people”, “a Country of happy life, for walking on streets, you can feel happy smile on the face of local people”, or “an ideal place for spending leisure time and holidays”. Of course, some tourists also “complained” in a humorous way: too many delicious food varieties might make them gain weight; or the Chinese language service was so perfect that they had no chance of using their good English. The score of Australian tourist satisfaction index in China was as high as 87.4 based on the data from Australian tourists interviewed in the former three seasons of 2017. Although the main motivation of Australian tourists to China was to enjoy natural scenery, visit famous cultural relics, or appreciate Chinese culture or art, more and more Australian tourists started to have interest in daily life information such as Chinese food, transportation, commodity price, and weather, or the factors of social development such as policy, law, regulation, image of citizen, environment, and hygiene. The turning of Australian tourist’s attention suggested that they would like to share and experience local people’s daily life in a destination. Tourists are no longer restricted to a simple bus tour between scenic area and hotel. They start to go into local people’s living space and make exchanges and communications with citizens, by which prejudices and misunderstandings can be eliminated gradually; and the support on both sides will be further strengthened.       

China-Australia tourism exchanges need the hard work of tourism administrations and tourism promotion agencies at both sides. Immediately after signed the destination status agreement (ADS), the tourism administrations at both sides established the Deputy-Minister level negotiation mechanism and working group for exchanging the implementation of destination status agreement, releasing the specialized reports of market monitoring, quality guarantee, tourist statistics, and data analysis, and studying the upgradeable policy preservation. Therefore, China Tourism Academy respectively signed cooperation agreement with Tourism Research Australia and Griffith University, and more tourism promotion agencies, institutions of higher learning, media agencies, and enterprises joined the progress and kept extensive and effective communications. 

Dear colleagues and friends,

In less than five years, China will achieve the first 100th-anniversary goal of the Chinese dream. This is to say that China will realize the dream of building a well-off society in all-round way. This is a great dream that will be recorded in history. And it means that Chinese people will pursuit better life and have more budget and time for enjoying high-quality tourism, including outbound tourism. The latest forecast of China Tourism Academy suggests in the coming five years China will generate as many as 700 million outbound tourists who will have 800 billion US dollar spending in the outbound tourist destinations. China has become the world’s second-largest economy, the quality of economic growth and the level of social development and people’s life are getting better; and we would also like to attract more tourists from all over the world. In fact, Chinese dream has become the most powerful impetus to all-round recovery and growth of Chinese inbound tourism; and to international tourists, it is also more attractive than the natural, historical, and cultural resources.     

Looking into the future, the joint efforts will advance the comprehensive strategic partnership, people at both sides will have better impression of each other, and the degree of popularity of tourist attractions will be increased. Those always make me have an optimistic prediction on China-Australia tourism exchanges. It is normal to have some divergences between two Countries of different history, culture, political system, and different level of economic development. In his speech at the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia on 17 November of 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping used an Australian aboriginal proverb, “keep your eyes on the sun and you will not see the shadows”, and gave the general orientation and basic principle of upgrading the bilateral relationship. With the orientation and principle, Australia has become a model or sample of Chinese outbound tourist destination. And Australia has frequent interactions with China tourism industry and would not have the direction that is unfavorable for mutual tourism exchanges. It is my hope that in near future that our two sides could make strategic communication and technical negotiation as soon as possible on relevant topics such as the destination status agreement plus (ADS+) and free trading area (FTA). 

In this progress, government and academic institution could attach great importance to the key role of market entity in the bilateral tourism exchanges. In the past, we talked more government and public institution than market entity. We need an immediate change now. It is necessary to tell all walks of life in China and Australia: Without enterprise’s efforts, there would be no today’s achievements of China-Australia tourism exchanges; and without enterprise’s innovational practice, there would be no the guarantee for tourism service quality in our two sides. Today, we acknowledge four enterprises for “their distinguished contributions to Chinese citizen’s travel to Australia”. On each week China Southern Airline Co. Ltd. has regular 48 flights; and China International Ltd., GZL International Travel Service Ltd., Beijing Step into the World International Travel Service Co., Ltd., those travel agencies provided travelling tourists with high-quality professional service. Many attendees here are from education or research institutions. We know that in the past we paid more attention to the issues of macro-level research and academic community but less to those of micro-level research and industrial practice. It is my hope that we could pay attention to not only the issues of tourism research and discipline building but also the realistic issues in China-Australia tourism development, and make the necessary efforts for and possible contributions to the tourism exchanges and cooperation and the comprehensive strategic partnership between our two sides. China Tourism Academy and National Tourism Data Center will further promote the practical cooperation with Tourism Research Australia and Griffith University, maintain data exchanges and resource sharing, make full use of the achievements from research on tourist destination popularity survey and tourist satisfaction degree survey, and pay attention to not only tourist’s change in recognition and impression at the national level, but also tourist’s comments on the micro aspects of State, city or specific area in the destination satisfaction degree survey and loyalty degree survey.

Thank you!

Dai Bin, President of China Tourism Academy

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