Chinese visitors to make tourism Australia's biggest source of revenue
A boom of Chinese visitors to Australia is expected to result in tourism becoming Australia's number one source of revenue.
A boom of Chinese visitors to Australia is expected to result in tourism becoming Australia's number one source of revenue, according to leading business and forecasting experts.
Around 8 million overseas visitors visited Australia during 2014-15, the highest on record, but a booming Chinese middle class and a desire to capture that market could lead to an explosion of tourism in Australia.
Phil Ruthven, a leading business analyst at IBISWorld, predicted massive growth in the tourism sector, especially as the construction and mining boom winds down.
"Minerals have played a big role, but you can see manufacturing has shrunk in terms of it now heading offshore," Ruthven said at the Economic and Social Outlook Conference in Melbourne on Thursday.
Ruthven predicted that inbound tourism to Australia could blow out to more than 20 million annual visitors by 2030.
"It's my most conservative estimate to what's going to happen to inbound tourists," he said.
"By the end of the next decade, at 2030, we will be exporting more tourism from Australia than all of our minerals combined."
"In other words, tourism will have overtaken minerals as our biggest single expert."
He said Chinese tourists will be the main driver, and explained that currently, less than one percent of all Chinese tourists visit Australia.
"You mention China, we get less one percent of them, just 900,000 (tourists annually). If we can get a quarter of them (or 40 million), we would already be exporting as much tourism as we do minerals," Ruthven said.
"You simply can't make the same money out of a field like agriculture compared to that."
Professor Christine Wong, Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Melbourne, agreed, saying that if Australia can capture even 10 percent of the Chinese market annually, it would bring a massive windfall.
"Last year, China had 120 million tourists heading overseas, so Australia should be looking to capture some of that market."
She said that China's economic shift had forced Australia to look outside of construction and materials sector, adding the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement would help to fill the void.
She maintained China is a key to Australia's future prosperity, through tourism, exports and services, all of which will be made easier to obtain because of the landmark free trade agreement.
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