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Monday, March 20, 2017, 14:51

Making tracks Down Under

By CHEN YINGQUN in Beijing

Australia and New Zealand roll out better services and more flights as high number of Chinese arrivals set to continue

Making tracks Down Under
Tourists enjoy sunset views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House on March 6. Chinese tourists are expected to make around 1.4 million visits to Australia this year, according to online travel agency Ctrip.  (AFP)
Australia is top of Zheng Yang’s list as a honeymoon destination. The 30-year-old envisions beautiful sea views along the coastal highways, playing with kangaroos and experiencing the unique local culture.

“Australia is like a combination of many good things that I’m interested in: Beautiful natural scenery, various kinds of plants and animals, and diversified Aboriginal cultures,” she said, adding that she plans to visit soon for a two-week trip.

Down Under is becoming increasingly popular with Chinese tourists. Figures from the China National Tourism Administration show that, in 2016, Chinese made 1.3 million trips to Australia, 28 percent more than the previous year.

A recent report by the Chinese online travel agency Ctrip estimated that Chinese tourists this year will make more than 1.4 million visits to the country and will spend more than 50 billion yuan (US$7.2 billion) there.

In 2016, Ctrip served around 70,000 tourists to Australia — 50 percent more than the previous year.

China is set to surpass New Zealand as the biggest source of inbound tourism for Australia. Extensive traveling, tailor-made packages and outdoor trips have become more popular among Chinese tourists than traditional group tours, Ctrip said.

Ge Yujing, general manager of the public affairs department with Chinese online travel agency, noted the change in pattern of Chinese tourists.

He said that while Chinese in the past would visit Australia and New Zealand in one trip, many are now devoting more time to just one place due to rising spending power and a desire for better quality.

In 2016, Chinese visitor spending per person was 35 percent more than the previous year. Moreover, in January and February, when China is in the grips of a cold winter and the air pollution can intensify in some places, people’s desire to take trips Down Under often peaks.

Both Australia and New Zealand have launched initiatives to expand two-way tourism with China. Australia recently began offering 10-year multi-entry visas to Chinese on a trial basis, allowing for up to three months per stay.

And Chinese visitors now no longer need to visit visa centers, thanks to the new Chinese application website.

Also, the number of air routes between the two countries has been increasing. At present, Chinese and Australian airlines have connected 17 Chinese and seven Australian cities.

John O’Sullivan, managing director of Tourism Australia, said that a recent agreement removes all capacity restrictions for both sides’ airlines, and the number of carriers operating between China and Australia is expected to rise by about 30 percent this year.

Australia is now providing more Chinese-speaking tour guides and service operators, and is setting up more Chinese-language tourism websites. It is also improving payment options for Chinese people, by taking into account mobile systems such as Alipay and WeChat Wallet.

Paula Bennett, deputy prime minister of New Zealand, noted recently while meeting with Chinese tourism officials in New Zealand that China is the second-largest source destination for the country’s inbound tourism.

New Zealand has taken steps to amend service standards and security for Chinese tourists.

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