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ATEC welcomes China tourism agreement
The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has welcomed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Strengthening Tourism Cooperation with China signed yesterday during a meeting between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Premier Wen Jiabao as a significant opportunity for Australia to expand further into the market.
ATEC Chairman, John King (pictured) explained that the Chinese market is worth around $3 billion a year to Australia and this agreement opens up an opportunity to take that market to a new level, stating "China has just moved into first place as Australia's biggest export market in expenditure and the forecast is for this market to continue to grow rapidly through 2020.
"This MoU offers the Australian tourism industry an enormous opportunity to increase yield and expand our product into a range of Chinese markets.
"With a rapidly growing wealthy middle class, an expanding number of well travelled people and a very positive perception of Australia in China, this development could not have come at a better time".
King said the Australian tourism industry must now find ways to create an even more attractive product range for the Chinese market and look to provide culture specific services and experiences that connect with Chinese tourists.
"We have already seen some tourism businesses taking the initiative by providing tailored services for Chinese tourists such as providing specific foods, entertainment and bi-lingual staff. There is now even more impetus on our industry to provide culturally specific services."
The MoU will extend China's Approved Destination Scheme to include individuals, companies and education opportunities which will in turn open the gateway for further market growth.
King added "this is a significant opportunity and as an industry we must look at how we can best target and cater to this market.
"Clearly this is currently Australia's most valuable tourism market, worth up to 13% of our total tourism exports and we now have an opportunity to grow this market even further."
King said the current agreement with China has promoted group travel and the MoU would expand the scope of this important relationship as well as streamlining the visa process for Chinese travellers, making it more attractive for them to holiday in Australia, concluding "Australia set the pace by becoming the first western country to be granted approved destination status from China. It is therefore appropriate that Australia takes the lead in the enhancement of this status."
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