Welcome to this week’s China Ready Now Round-Up.
In the last few months we’ve seen announcements of new direct flights between Changsha and Sydney, Xi’an and Sydney, and Shenyang and Melbourne (via Qingdao). Brisbane Airport also recently announced the “Holy Grail” of daily direct flights to and from Shanghai, which are due to start in December. Well, Christmas is now coming early for another Australian city, with the South Australian government announcing last week that direct flights between Guangzhou and Adelaide could commence as early as December following an in-principle agreement with China Southern Airlines.
These newly announced and proposed routes represent just a small fraction of those approved by China this year (some 132 new international flight routes were approved in just 3 months this year), however it is still massive for Australia. As Tourism Australia Managing Director John O’Sullivan tweeted:
— John OSullivan (@jnlosullivan) July 30, 2016
To put this in perspective, as recently as 2011 there were just 3 cities in China that had direct flights to Australia (Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou). Since then Chinese tourist arrivals have increased by almost 20% each year. Now, we have 10 cities in China connected to 6 cities in Australia, with those numbers potentially increasing to 12 and 7 respectively by the end of the year.
So, what do these newly announced flight routes mean for tourism and hospitality operators? For businesses that are in New South Wales and Victoria, it means that you’ll probably start seeing more Chinese clientele who are from provinces such as Hunan, Shaanxi and Shandong. These tourists may be on their first trip to Australia, so they’ll need a bit more hand-holding and assistance than more seasoned travellers from first-tier cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.
For operators elsewhere, these new flights mean that Chinese can now more quickly visit parts of Australia that were too difficult or time-consuming to get to on their first trip. Capital cities Brisbane and Adelaide can expect to to see a big increase in Chinese arrivals (the Queensland government forecasts an additional 85,000 inbound visitors a year) who will then be more likely to fan out to more regional destinations.
Regardless, the question for all tourism and hospitality operators should be, are you ready for an expected 40% increase in flights from China? We’re here to help you get China Ready Now.
- South Australia inks deal to begin direct flights from Adelaide to China: The South Australian government has reached an in-principle deal with China Southern Airlines for direct flights from and to Guangzhou three times a week, which could begin as soon as December. This would mark the first time Adelaide had a direct route to China.
- Chinese tourists flocking to Sea Lake: Alongside the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and Sydney Harbour, Australia has a new and somewhat unlikely must-see tourism hotspot. Lake Tyrrell, a large salt lake in northern Victoria, has brilliant shades of pink and photos of it have gone viral on websites in China.
- Jackie Chan to produce next blockbuster film in NSW: Jackie Chan will star in and produce his next blockbuster film Bleeding Steel in NSW. The NSW government has ensured the movie will showcase Sydney and surrounds to the largest growth market for tourism in NSW, so fingers crossed it is one of Jackie’s better ones!
- The Programmatic Journey of Chinese Travellers: If you’re not trying to engage Chinese travellers through their smartphones, you’re missing out. According to GfK, 54% of Chinese travellers use their smartphones to compare prices, 50% use their phones to scan barcodes/QR codes for more information, 49% take pictures of actual products they may buy and 43% take pictures of advertisement/product information.
- Forget Golden Week, the Biggest Global Chinese Travel Season is Now: According to Jing Daily, July and August will see the highest numbers of Chinese traveling overseas. Increasingly, Chinese tourists are “free and independent travelers” (FITs), who are now estimated to represent 60% of all outbound Chinese travellers. We love the practical recommendations at the end of this article and can help with many of them.
- IHG launches “China Ready” programme globally: The programme includes having Chinese-speaking staff at the front desk, acceptance of China UnionPay cards, a Chinese welcome pack, Chinese channels on in-room TVs, free Wi-Fi for rewards club members and other amenities that meet the needs of Chinese guests. Although comprehensive, there’s no reason smaller, independent hotels can’t also be “China Ready”.
- Chinese companies investing heavily in tourism: When some of China’s biggest companies such as Dalian Wanda and HNA Group are investing billions in the tourism sector, you know it’s a good place to be. Wanda has announced investments totalling USD $16 billion in the last 12 months, with billionaire owner Wang Jianlin publicly stating that he wants to build an empire to challenge Walt Disney by the end of the decade. HNA Group meanwhile is in the process of taking over the world’s second largest airline caterer Gategroup and has also announced a tie-up with France’s biggest vacation property company PVCP, which will lead to the construction of three major new holiday parks in China.