Economy

Travellers between Australia and China increased by more than 200% over the past decade: Here are the business opportunities

John Nelder /

New figures show Australia’s tourism sector is flying, with passenger movements to and from China driving the boom, with experts saying this presents further opportunities for Australian brands. 

Data compiled by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade shows the number of foreign tourists flying to and from China on Qantas rising 260%, from 123,800 to 445,000 between 2007 and 2016.

There was also a similar jump in the number of passengers flying on Chinese airlines between Australia and China. The number of passengers travelling this route on Chinese carriers between 2007 and 2016 jumped from 590,000 to 2.2 million, with 659,000 Australian citizens travelling between Australia and China in 2016, according to DFAT.

St George senior economist Janu Chan says the numbers are indicative of the growing Chinese middle class, which continues to present an opportunity to Australia’s tourism sector.

“We expect the trend to continue because China’s middle class continues to grow. And tourism is a big beneficiary of that growing middle class,” she says.

It appears the small businesses standing to ride that wave are many and varied.

“The Chinese in particular like going shopping, so a lot of the retailers stand to benefit,” she says.

“Shopping holidays are very popular for the Chinese.”

Already several businesses have seized on that reputation to capture a growing slice of the emerging Chinese middle class market, with brands from Blackmores to Slim Secrets launching into China, while the Australian government continues to work with Chinese e-commerce giants to showcase more Australian brands to Chinese consumers.

Even products off the tourist trail have seen an uplift in Chinese demand, with Chan observing there are no fixed rules about what Chinese shoppes are interested in.

“You just don’t know what’ll take off among the Chinese. It depends what you can bring to the table,” Chan says.

“There’s a soap opera in China, for example, which once featured a box of Weet Bix and after that airing, there was a huge surge in the popularity of Weet Bix in China to the point where a box fetched upwards of $50.

“So the Chinese will come here and purchase these sorts of goods – going to supermarkets and buying Australian products as well as other whatever goods we might have.”

Chan says Australian producers in the game of clean, green food products will also continue to benefit from more Chinese visiting Australia.

“You’ve got your milk products and vitamins,” Chan says.

“In this part of the world, those products have been marketed as safe and high quality and Australians are trying to market into that area.”

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John Nelder

John Nelder is a former SmartCompany journalist.

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