Sun, Spas And Wine: China’s Wealthy Globetrotters Drawn To Australia

Australia Reportedly Third-Favorite Destination After France & US

Aussie wineries are eager to tap China's growing interest in wine

For the second consecutive year, Australia ranks third after France and the US as a top international tourist destination for wealthy Chinese, whose traveling habits are shifting from a single-minded focus on shopping and sightseeing to more diverse getaways with a “body and soul” element. According to a recent poll by the Shanghai-based Hurun Report, which surveys the earnings and buying (and traveling) habits of China’s millionaires, as in cities like New York, China’s moneyed traveler also has an eye on international real estate, with 12 percent of respondents saying they own a vacation home in Australia. Said Hurun Report founder Rupert Hoogewerf, “The Chinese luxury travel market is flourishing and shows promising signs of stable growth, with the number of Chinese outbound tourists set to reach 77 million, a staggering increase of 12 per cent year on year.”

According to Hoogwerf’s “Chinese Luxury Traveler 2012” report, over 60 percent of respondents said travel was their favorite leisure activity, with these travelers saying they spent close to one-third of their annual discretionary spending of $277,000. With new wealth being created in inland China, the number of potential travelers is rising quickly. Hoogewerf estimates that China has at least 7,500 yuan billionaires, those worth at least US$150 million, but that number may be wildly underestimated, given massive hidden wealth throughout the country. As Hoogewerf puts it, “For every Chinese billionaire we identify, another two exist under the radar.” As the recent Hurun report notes, China is home to at least 600 US-dollar billionaires.

As Chinese travel tastes continue to change, with the middle class still mostly fixated on sightseeing and shopping while seasoned wealthy globetrotters increasingly turn to spa getaways, winery tours and real estate shopping, Australia stands to further gain. Last month, in an attempt to draw in more Chinese visitors, Tourism Australia launched a US$250 million global campaign, “There’s Nothing Like Australia” in China. As Tourism Australia’s Managing Director, Andrew McEvoy, said at the launch, China could account for around 900,000 annual visitors to Australia within a few years, contributing around AU$9 billion per year to the local economy. Unlike France and Britain, countries that promote their shopping and spending options and sightseeing and cultural options roughly evenly, Australia’s new campaign is focused mainly on natural beauty, environment and personal space — three things increasingly scarce in urban China.

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