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[SYDNEY] Australia is planning a A$40 million global tourism campaign to help fill the economic hole left by the commodities downturn, targeting a growing group of Chinese holidaymakers who favour independent itineraries over traditional large group packages.
Government data released on Tuesday showed a record 1 million Chinese tourists flocked to Australia in the past 12 months, up from a mere 100,000 fifteen years ago. Beaten in absolute numbers only by New Zealand, China is the fastest growing group with a total spending of A$7.7 billion last year.
Australia's marketing campaign, to be launched later this month, will be geared towards a new breed of young and independent traveller from China drawn to Australia's natural beauty. "We are aiming for the young middle class who's got the confidence but also financial means to be able to travel further and stay longer while managing their itineraries, rather than being led by the hand," said Leo Seaton, Tourism Australia's spokesman.
While most western visitors participate in aquatic sports such as surfing or swimming, Seaton said Chinese tourists tend to prefer walking or whale-watching.
A falling Australian dollar, which fell 14 per cent over the past year, is certainly helping stave off competition from the United States, South Africa and Europe, all keen to be on the receiving end of China's spending power.
This is music to the ears of a government dealing with plunging prices for iron ore, the country's top export earner. Tourism Research Australia forecasts Chinese spending to double to A$13.7 billion by 2024-25.
Australia's A$1.6 trillion economy is struggling with the demise of a once-in-a-lifetime mining investment boom with sub-par growth.
Driven by Chinese arrivals, tourism is among the fastest growing sectors, employing half a million people. The government forecasts the industry to rake in A$113 billion by June 2016, with foreign tourists accounting for one third.