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NT wise to prepare for Chinese tourist influx, researcher urges

By Patrick Nelson

Dr Benxiang Zeng … “Nature-based experiences should be a key focus of marketing activities directed at Chinese visitors” Dr Benxiang Zeng … “Nature-based experiences should be a key focus of marketing activities directed at Chinese visitors”

A Charles Darwin University researcher says the results of a recent visitor satisfaction survey should prompt the Northern Territory to prepare for a dramatic increase in Chinese tourists.

Dr Benxiang Zeng, an Alice Springs-based Senior Research Fellow with CDU’s Northern Institute, said he was optimistic that the Territory could position itself to better tap into the Chinese outbound tourism market, which appears poised for significant growth during the next few years.

“Potentially, we are talking about big numbers, big opportunities and big dollars,” Dr Zeng said.

“Last year about 900,000 travellers from the Greater China Region visited Australia but only about 13,000 visited the NT.

“With the national number forecast to grow to about 1.4 million in 2022-23 there is enormous scope for the NT.

“The question ‘how should destination regions such as the NT prepare to welcome more Chinese tourists’ is one that I reflect on a lot,” Dr Zeng said.

The Tourism Research Australia survey Chinese Visitor Satisfaction reported that 90% of Chinese tourists were satisfied with their Australian holidays, and even more importantly, that 83% of them would recommend Australia as a holiday destination.

“A satisfied customer talking up the merits of their overseas holiday with their friends or family can be very influential in the Chinese context.”

Dr Zeng said that while the survey did not specifically capture the views of Chinese visitors to the NT, it would still be of value to policy makers and operators in the Territory.

“For example, I concur with their recommendation that nature-based experiences should be a key focus of marketing activities directed at Chinese visitors,” he said.

“As the survey points out, some 65% of Chinese visitors desire this sort of experience in their Australian travels. They love to get away from their overcrowded cities to see an unspoilt natural environment and to experience the exotic culture.”

Dr Zeng said he would like to see the Territory invest in Chinese language information including online messages, printed materials, visual products and signage in public places.

“Another important strategy would be to raise awareness, perhaps via social media, among Chinese people in China of the NT as a tourist destination.

“I know that work is being done in regard to this but there are still millions of Chinese people who think of Australia in terms of Sydney and Melbourne.

“If more Chinese people learn about the NT, more visitors will visit,” he said.