Western Australian tourism operators aren’t doing enough to attract Chinese visitors, according to a new report, which showed small changes to government policy could have a big impact in terms of attracting more tourists.
The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre’s Are we China ready? Chinese tourism in Western Australia report found WA tourism operators had a long way to go to ensure the state attracted its fair share of Chinese visitors, with just one in five tourism businesses surveyed having undertaken Asian language skills or training.
Data from Tourism Research Australia showed more than 1.2 million Chinese visited Australia last year, spending more than $10 billion.
But just 58,600 made their way to WA, with spending reaching $291 million.
BCEC report co-author, Curtin University faculty of business and law dean of research Kristen Holmes, said tourism operators needed to embrace China-ready accreditation to appeal to the growing market of Chinese travellers.
“Feedback from Chinese visitors suggests the tourism industry itself may not be doing enough to encourage Chinese tourism, and to make them feel more welcome when they arrived,” Professor Holmes said.
“Of the 22 tourism providers surveyed, 78 per cent did not have any Asian language skills or training and 44 per cent had no training or experience in the Asian market.
“Online courses or formal accreditation programs could go a long way in boosting Chinese visitor numbers in our tourist hotspots, but its up to tourism providers, with some government assistance, to educate themselves in this growing market.”
Other recommendations of the report to secure more Chinese visitors included extending retail trading hours to 6:30PM on weeknights.
Lead report author, Jianhong (Cecilia) Xia from Curtin’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, said Chinese visitors spent around $500 per night when they visited Australia, with 75 per cent of visitors aged between 20 and 40 and looking to purchase luxury goods.
“Visitors that we surveyed said they often filled their days with day trips away from Perth city and expected to spend the early evening shipping before eating out for dinner,” Associate Professor Xia said.
“Extending retail trading hours to 6:30PM during the week would allow more time for travellers to shop during the limited time they spend in Perth.”
The report found that just 7 per cent of Chinese visitors to WA used commercial group travel services, with the remainder travelling independently.
WA tourism providers were urged to ensure online information was up-to-date, with Chinese travellers using a wide variety of online sources to plan their trip.
The top five destinations visited by Chinese travellers in WA were Perth City, Fremantle, Margaret River, Exmouth and Albany, the report said.