Already tourism operators are realising WeChat’s potential with Las Vegas’ The LINQ Hotel offering guests the opportunity to use their account to do anything from interact with a concierge to obtain information on local attractions and activities. Getting it right will be a gamechanger.
In Australia, particularly regional Australia, our tourism industry could certainly benefit from the rise of the Chinese millennial. China was the largest contributor to our Australian tourism dollar in 2016. Chinese visitors’ total overall spend hit $A9.2 billion last year (up 11 per cent) and spent an average of $A478 per night on accommodation.
Currently more than two-thirds of international Chinese travellers are under 35 years of age. This makes understanding this demographic even more relevant to Australia’s tourism operators.
According to a 2016 Hurun report, Australia ranked the third-most popular destination for young luxury travellers, behind France and Japan respectively.
Those surveyed who had visited Australia also planned to return 3.3 times in the next three years – more frequently than any other destination. Reasons included leisure (88 per cent) and visiting friends and family, business, food and shopping, all over 20 per cent.
Looking closer to home, according to Destination NSW figures Chinese visitors to the South Coast surged 30 per cent from the year ending September 2015 to the corresponding month of 2016.
Chinese visitors now make up 9.3 per cent of all international visitors to the region, up from 7.8 per cent in 2015 but still third overall behind the UK and USA.
While these growth figures are strong, in order to fully realise the opportunity, local tourism providers need to consider whether they are catering to the millennial market by providing a luxury experience as well as taking into account the learnings around how to deal with them. Crucially they need to understand what sets Australia - and the Illawarra - apart.
It’s a point made clear by ChinaSkinny’s research which highlights Australian brands can benefit from our clean and green image. This association with wide-open spaces and fresh air are key concerns to the modern Chinese millennial. They’re highly educated and want a high-quality of life for themselves, their parents and future generations.
In fact, they are more concerned with quality of life than the slowing growth of the economy. With this changing mentality, eco-tourism or agricultural tourism is emerging as a potentially lucrative point of difference.
Building a presence and succeeding in attracting the Asian market sounds fragmented and complicated, but by cultivating relationships, growing understanding of how this demographic likes to be interacted with, we’re positioning ourselves in the top echelon of tourism destinations.
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For businesses in the Illawarra – and all Australian regional areas - willing to investigate, invest and evolve, the opportunities are there for the taking.
It will require a considered approach with strategy and emersion paramount to capturing the Chinese millennial market but the increasingly growing and wealthy demographic means it’s really too good of an opportunity to ignore.
Adele Fiene is a Regional Executive at ANZ