Five Australian experiences Chinese tourists should have

The Chinese have rapidly become the world’s biggest travellers and the biggest spenders over the past few years, thanks to ever-expanding middle and upper-class numbers.

Last year 109 million Chinese left home to experience overseas travel and they did so with spending money of US$229 billion. This is a key milestone in China’s outbound tourism history, according to GfK travel data analysis.

There’s no doubt about China’s position as one of the top global sources of tourists, in terms of both number of trips and money spent during international travel. At the same time, the desire for overseas travel experiences is being led by the Chinese millennials (15-29 years), accounting for over half of China’s outbound travellers. The sheer size of the millennial group within China’s travellers is an attractive drawcard for visiting countries holding out the “hu?nyíng” flag. A further lure is that 66% of Chinese millennials belong to the high income bracket. Not only that, but their financial standing is expected to increase as their careers advance, since seven out of ten millennials hold ‘white collar’ executive or professional jobs.

Where do the Chinese like to travel? The top five destinations last year were South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan. Europe remains the most popular destination for Chinese travelling outside of Asia. This is followed by North America and the Middle East. The signs are, however, that Chinese travellers looking for new destinations. Up until 2013, Hong Kong was the preferred destination for China’s outbound tourists, driven by its cultural similarity, lower travel costs and accessibility via short-distance travel. On top of this, Hong Kong offered a shopping paradise, a strong motivating factor for Chinese tourists at that time.

According to GfK data, in 2014, increasing numbers of China’s outbound tourists have been opting for other destinations that offer historical and cultural experiences, as well as shopping. The more ambitious, freedom-loving Chinese millennials are chasing meaningful, adventurous and exciting experiences.

Enter Australia. While we can’t compete on the shopping scale of Hong Kong, we can provide a unique friendliness, clean, green environment with room to move and space to take in holiday sights of choice. More and more Chinese travellers are coming to Australia, many of them repeat visitors which is a great sign. Tourism Australia forecasts by 2022-23, the number of Chinese visitors will increase from 685,000 to 1.4 million and their inbound tourism expenditure will escalate from $4.4 billion to $8.2 billion. Our lower exchange rate is no doubt a benefit in that regard!

There’s no shortage of things to do, places to see and unusual experiences to be had in Australia for this new breed of young and independently-minded travellers.

Five suggestions to consider

Chinese travellers are becoming more discerning about what they want from their holidays. Naturally, the likes of Sydney’s Opera House, Melbourne’s European luxury, Gold Coast beaches etc will never wane in appeal. However, it’s not enough anymore to plonk yourself by a pool – travellers want authentic experiences, unique destinations and trips that enrich their lives in some way. A bit of brag factor doesn’t hurt either.

Here are some alternative destinations to think about.

Cruising the Kimberley, Western Australia

The Kimberley, bigger than the state of Victoria, among the oldest landscapes on Earth – is particularly talented at claiming the largest of all superlatives, but there’s really nothing that can do justice to her outstanding array of waterholes, beaches, bushland and wildlife. What else could you want in a holiday destination, other than a way to get to it? Yes, she’s remote, but she’s definitely worth it. And there’s no better way to see the Kimberley and her 2500-odd islands than by sailing ’round her edges in one of the world-class adventure cruise ships on offer. It’s not a cheap holiday – ship sizes vary greatly, from 6-person boats to 100-person expedition ships. Then there’s the cost of flights to the region in the first place. Check out Kimberley Cruises, National Geographic Orion, Great Escape Charter Company, North Star Cruises, Kimberley Quest and Aurora Expeditions.

Drink in the views at Saffire Freycinet, Tasmania

At the other end of the continent lies the breathtaking luxury lodge, Saffire Freycinet, midway along Tasmania’s beautiful east coast. It’s all about the views at Saffire. The unmistakeable peaks of the Hazards Mountains are framed by the main building’s roofline which is shaped like a giant stingray – the long, thin entrance is its tail, and the building sides flow down like two curvaceous wings. The roofline mimics the topography of the mountains while the villas resemble lapping waves. Here, you are close to natural wonders such as the Bay of Fires, Wineglass Bay, Maria Island and scenic drives that provide one long, continuous reel of six-star surroundings. Check out www.saffire-freycinet.com.au

Sleep on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

For all the intricate marine life you witness during the day on the Great Barrier Reef, you can’t forget that there are just as many little critters sleeping the day away. And an utterly fabulous way to see these nocturnal creatures is by staying the night, sleeping on a purpose-built pontoon in situ. Cruise Whitsundays runs the giant Reefworld floating pontoon, from which you can view this incomparable perspective of nightlife from a large, seated, underwater chamber or from the tailor-made viewing deck up top. For lodgings, you can opt for either a bright and fully equipped, air conditioned cabin, or you can sleep under the stars in a very comfortable swag. Packages come with scuba dives, guided snorkelling tours with a reef interpreter, alfresco dining. And if that’s still not enough there’s always the added option of hiring a helicopter and taking a scenic flight over iconic Heart Reef – another geological oddity you can only find in Australia. The Reefworld pontoon is inside Hardy’s Reef, around 2 hours from Hamilton Island. Find out more about Reefsleep at www.cruisewhitsundays.com

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Experience the Red Centre at Longitude 131°, Northern Territory

Renowned as the spiritual heart of Australia, the Red Centre is rich in aboriginal culture and rugged outback beauty. Dual World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a living, cultural landscape, covering an area over 311,000 acres. Australia’s most recognisable natural icon and one of the world’s largest monoliths Uluru (Ayers Rock) is the region’s gem and the iconic, sacred red domes of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) stand nearby. The white-tented cabins of Red Centre boutique hotel Longitude 131° stand in stark contrast to the wild desert, offering unbeatable Uluru views. To call the accommodation “tents” is a stretch. Windows, walls and tiled floors usually qualify as being a room, though the draped canvas roof is straight out of Arabian Nights. Tents don’t usually have such luxurious bathrooms either, including a shower with a view into a sand dune where dingoes frolic. This is immersion in the Australian outback in the purest sense. And if it’s good enough for Prince William and Kate ……..  See more at www.longitude131.com.au

Getaway to the Blue Mountains, New South Wales

Only one and a half hours drive west from Sydney is the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park with tourist attractions every bit as enchanting as those seen in the capital city. In fact on the cusp of the dramatic Jamison Valley you’ll find Fairmont Resort. This has got to be the pinnacle of upscale accommodation in Leura, a charming upper-mountain village. Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains is not small, intimate and tucked away. It is big, dramatic, proud and demanding of your attention. There are 221 accommodation rooms and suites with glorious views and all the amenities you would expect of a world-class resort. The added attractions are the gardens, walkways, playing golf on the mountain tops, exploring natural wonders such as the Three Sisters, Orphan Rock, Mt Solitary and Katoomba Falls from the Scenic Cableway. And that’s only the start. Check out www.fairmontresort.com.au

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