How are Chinese tourists seeing Australia?

This post is part 4 of our Intro series for the Australian market. Read part 1 “The Chinese are coming!” here, part 2 “Why are the Chinese coming?” here and part 3 “Who are your Chinese tourists?” here.

Breaking down Chinese arrival numbers

53% of the 1,023,700 Chinese arrivals to Australia in 2015 listed their primary purpose as “holiday”. A further 19% cited “visiting friends and relatives”, while “education” was the main reason for 14% of visits by Chinese nationals. “Business” travellers constituted 9% of the market. Most significantly, the percentage of “leisure” visitors, which combines those who list “holiday” and “visiting friends and relatives” as their primary purpose, has increased from approximately 57% of Chinese arrivals in 2005 to 72% of arrivals in 2015.


How long are they here for?

For Chinese leisure travelers to Australia in 2015, the average trip was 8-9 days long. Given Australia is a “long-haul” destination (for example, a flight from Shanghai to Sydney takes approximately 10.5 hours), it is unsurprising that the average length of visit for Chinese tourists to Australia is longer than the duration for other locations visited by Chinese. For instance, a recent TripAdvisor study found that for Chinese independent travelers, 40% of trips are only 4 to 6 nights in duration, while 34% of trips are even shorter at 3 days or less.1 The TripAdvisor study found that just over 25% of Chinese independent vacationers surveyed took trips that were more than 7 days.

Rise of the repeat visitor

Once in Australia, the average Chinese tourist will take about two or three domestic flights, according to the CAPA Centre for Aviation.2 With only 9 days and approximately 2 to 3 flights, it is also not surprising that 46% of visitors surveyed in a recent study by L.E.K. Consulting stated that they were return visitors – Australia is simply too big for them to see in 1 trip!3

Particularly noteworthy is that the rate of return Chinese visitors is increasing – from 37% in 2005 to 46% today. As the L.E.K. report notes, this is already higher than the rate for Korean and German visitors (33% and 41% respectively), and it appears likely that it will soon overtake the repeat visitor rates for Japan (46%) and the United States (47%).

“Group package” tourists vs “free and independent travelers”

The majority of Chinese tourists to Australia are still coming in “group package” tours, however, the percentage of “free and independent travelers” (FITs) from China continues to grow at a faster rate than the overall growth of the Chinese tourist market. According to Tourism Research Australia, in the period 2011-13, approximately 36% of short-term leisure arrivals from China who entered via Sydney or Melbourne were FITs.

The aviation route boom

One of the truly amazing aspects about the Chinese tourist boom is how quickly the aviation routes between Australia and China have opened up. Up until 2011, only 3 Chinese cities (Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou) had direct flights to Australia. That number increased to 6 cities by 2014, and by the end of 2016, it may have doubled to 12.4 The full list now includes Nanjing, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Fuzhou, Xiamen and Xi’an (both Xiamen and Xi’an were December 2015 additions), with Qingdao set to join the party with 3 flights a week to Melbourne from September 2016, following an application by Beijing Capital Airlines.5

Want to take advantage of the boom in aviation routes and the growing number of repeat Chinese visitors? Contact China Ready Now for a free consultation.


Chinese to give tourism a boost in Australia, Sky News, 1 June 2016.
2 Study: Independent Chinese tourists plan to spend more and stay longer, Jing Daily, 16 May 2016.
Report: Chinese Tourists worth $140bn to Australia by 2025, Australia China Business Council, 31 May 2016.
China-Australia aviation: one million visitors & flights on 21 city-pairs from 12 Chinese cities, CAPA Centre for Aviation, 18 January 2016.
Tourism Australia – International aviation capacity to Australia – Upcoming new routes

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