SYDNEY, Australia – China was the number one source of international tourist arrivals to Australia in February, the first time it has topped the monthly arrivals, Australia’s Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) said on Tuesday.
TTF, the peak industry group for the Australian tourism, transport and aviation sectors, said the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed 77,700 Chinese visitors arrived in Australia in February, up 6.1 percent compared to the same month in 2010.
Combining January and February, arrivals from China increased 25.3 percent or 27,900 visitors, as a result of Chinese New Year and international student arrivals.
TTF chief executive John Lee said China offers incredible potential.
“To meet the needs of growing numbers of Chinese visitors, we must ensure that tourism operators are prepared, with cultural awareness, language skills, cuisine and activities tailored to their needs,” Lee said.
“To foster growth in an increasingly competitive international marketplace, we need to provide new and exciting accommodation, attractions and experiences, which will also help to cater for the increasingly sophisticated and demanding tastes of Australian travelers.”
Australia also needs to remove barriers for tourists to travel to Australia, Lee said.
“We are calling on the federal government to streamline the highly bureaucratic, cumbersome and expensive tourism visa application process to ensure that it does not unnecessarily curtail growth in Chinese arrivals,” he said in a statement.
“With the anticipated decline in arrivals from New Zealand and Japan, two of our top five international markets, and the impact of the flooding and cyclone in Queensland, removing administrative barriers could help to offset any downturn from other key markets, ” Lee said.
According to the latest ABS data, the number of Australians traveling internationally continues to grow, with 7.21 million departures for the year ending February, giving Australia an annual tourist deficit of 1.36 million.