Six Chinese carriers that fly to Australia plan to work together to boost the number of tourists travelling between the two countries.
On Tuesday, Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and Xiamen Air signed a memorandum of understanding at the launch of the China-Australia Year of Tourism 2017 program of events in Sydney on Tuesday.
“The agreement will see the airlines not only taking a coordinated approach towards increasing capacity between China and Australia but will also see them joining together in tourism marketing and promotional activities,” the China National Tourist Office said in a statement.
Chinese flag carriers have rapidly expanded their operations in this country in recent times, with Airservices Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting crews seemingly on hand every week to commemorate the arrival of a new Chinese route.
Currently, there are flights from Australia to 13 Chinese destinations – Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Chengdu, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Wuhan, Xi’an, Shenyang, Qingdao, Hangzhou. Mainland capitals Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney have service to China.
Uplift/discharge figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) showed there were 2.26 million travellers between Australia and China in the 12 months to June 30 2016, up 29.7 per cent from the prior corresponding period.
Moreover, the recent open skies agreement between the two nation that removes capacity limits under the air services agreement will enable Chinese carriers to maintain that furious pace of growth in the years to come.
“What we’ve recognised is that the Australian market lends itself more towards cooperation,” China National Tourist Office director Luo Weijian said.
“Rather than six Chinese carriers competing to get a bigger slice of the pie, if we grow that pie everybody will get a bigger slice.
Luo said one of the China National Tourist Office’s key objectives was to “add greater capacity and more routes between Australia and China”.
“This will attract more Australian visitors to China and it will facilitate continued growth in a market that is currently generating more than $9 billion in export revenue for Australia,” Luo said.
China Eastern general manager for Oceania Kathy Zhang said: “Travel between Australia and China is booming. We have seen rapid growth in both Chinese visitors coming to Australia and Australians visiting China, and it is one of the key drivers for China Eastern Airlines’ international business.”
In April, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced 2017 would be the China-Australia Year of Tourism, with events held to promote increased visitation from both countries.
On Tuesday, the China National Tourist Office outlined some of the events to take place in 2017, including the opening ceremony at the Sydney Opera House and plans for eight-metre tall inflatable panda and koala to be on display at Darling Harbour. There were also plans for youth exchange and familiarisation trips for the travel trade.
“This is one of the most significant tourism exchange initiatives ever undertaken between China and another country,” Luo said.
“Designating 2017 as the China-Australia Year of Tourism recognises just how important tourism is, not just in terms of export income, but in cultural exchange between Australia and China.”
Yang Zhi, minister counsellor for culture in the Chinese embassy in Australia, said tourism was one of the most effective ways of having a good relationship between countries.
“There is an old saying in China. State-to-state relations thrive when there is a friendship between the two peoples so people-to-people exchange really has played a very fundamental and leading role in maintaining a good bilateral relations,” Yang said at the official launch.
“I’m confident that the launching of the China-Australia year of tourism will boost tourism cooperation between the two countries. We welcome more Australians to visit China and we encourage more Chinese visitors to come to Australia.”