Social media nous and major national advertising campaigns are key to restarting Australia's more than USD 12.4 billion tourism trade with China, according to a new report.
Looking ahead to a resumption in international travel after COVID-19 pandemic eases, the Australia China Business Council has called on domestic industry players to develop boosted understanding of Chinese social media channels and payment platforms.
In 2019, China accounted for some 1.4 million visitors to Australia and about USD 12.4 billion in annual tourist expenditure.
A promotional campaign around a Chinese festival in Australia could be designed to celebrate the reopening and have high impact in the Chinese market. Internships and exchange programs like the government's New Colombo Plan could boost opportunities and partnerships.
The report calls for Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham to make a bilateral visit to China as soon as possible, accompanied by a delegation of tourism industry representatives.
The recommendation comes as senior Chinese politicians shun their Australian counterparts, part of a deteriorating relationship following the Morrison government's calls for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
On Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs warned Australians living in Hong Kong to reconsider their need to remain, days after new travel advice warned Australians they may face arbitrary detention anywhere in mainland China.
Streamlined visa processes and reduced waiting times could also be implemented, with the report calling for visas disrupted by the pandemic to be reissued to Chinese travelers at no cost.
"Chinese tourism could boost regional economies, including those affected by recent bushfires," the report said. "However, understanding in regional areas of how to promote to Chinese consumers and cater to their needs remains at a low level.
"Developing a library of resources for regional councils and businesses, along with assistance with social media campaigns and face-to-face Chinese cultural education workshops, could support further growth."
Accor-Pacific chief operating officer Simon McGrath welcomed recommendations for a federal government-led advertising campaign across China.
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