The federal government’s recent budget may have been considered stingy in many areas but in the high-end tourist market it was generous yielding $43 million for a new Tourism Demand-Driver Infrastructure Program.
This includes a $10 million fund will also be established called the Australia-China Approved Destination Status and $2 million has been granted to support the staging of an Australia Week in China (AWIC) in 2016.
China is currently Australia’s biggest tourism market worth more than $4 billion annually and Tourism Australia's recent 2020 Tourism Potential Report China singled the giant nation out as the stand-out growth market in the next six years.
The Tourism Potential 2020 report also states, `Both the low and high potential scenarios imply significant additional economic benefits`. But could targeting the high-end tourists and the Chinese really seep down into other levels of tourism by 2020 and even benefit caravan parks? Is it dangerous to rely too much on one sector?
Why Target the Chinese & High-spenders Now?
In the last quarter of 2013 Chinese arrivals dropped by 14 percent but their overall spend increased by 17 percent, essential less tourists but more revenue came in. The kind of visitors that Tourism Australia and the federal government are targeting eat in expensive restaurants, stay in luxury eco-resorts, hire local guides and buy local products and art.
John O'Sullivan, the Managing Director of Tourism Australia told the Sydney Morning Herald recently that the organisation planned to capitalise on the opportunity by ‘focusing its marketing activities on the growing number of affluent and independently-minded Chinese travelers.’
Other high spending country in the last year include the UK, Singapore, Malaysia and the USA.
While a down-market bikini-laden ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ campaign fell on its face in 2006, perhaps even damaging Australia's brand amongst more the sophisticated demographic what has worked is bringing Oprah Winfrey to Australia. The positive impact filming of an episode of Modern Family and the pictures of the royal couple in Australia are believed to already have been felt.
The shrimp is no longer on the barbie but instead Restaurant Australia is inviting international guest to discover our produce and innovative kitchens.
One interesting statistic is the rise in arrivals and spend among a few European countries despite austerity measures and economic woes. Italian visitors are the most surprising with an increase of 9.5% countries in the last year.
Is there anything in it for Caravan Parks and Budget Operators?
While the budget and The Tourism Potential 2020 didn't specifically allot money to the caravan and camping industry, $600,000 was assigned to the T-Qual Accreditation Programme which is association with Ecotourism Australia and covers more than 11,000 local tourism operations including caravan parks.
Eco tourism and a healthy environment is part of Australia's brand internationally, and it’s important that tourists from backpackers to jetsetters note our practices and the differences they make to our outstandingly beautiful environment.
Tourism Australia will likely continue campaigns aimed at international backpackers and the youth market such as the World's Greatest Job. However, additional new campaigns such as Restaurant Australia target the mid to high-ender traveler.
At the moment just 5% of Chinese own passports but that is quickly changing, and it's not just Australia but the world's tourism boards from Europe to North America are all scrambling in preparation for the influx. But Tourism Australia must also remember not to put all of its eggs in one basket and that there are many potential markets and many types of tourists to cater for.