A major annual survey gauging public opinion on aspects of the relationship between Australia and China has found that a majority of Australians believe Chinese tourism provides major economic benefits to Australia and should be a priority initiative post-COVID-19.
The 2021 survey, conducted by the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) and the Centre for Business Intelligence & Data Analytics (BIDA) at the University of Technology Sydney, is described as the most comprehensive survey of public opinion on the Australia-China relationship to date, delving into everything from the Australian government’s political communication, the triangular Australia-US-China relationship, trade and investment, military and security, society, university and research, and global and regional cooperation.
It also comes at a time when relations between the two countries are particularly strained, with public criticism of China by the Australian government having been met with a range of trade sanctions.
Despite this, the “UTS:ACRI/BIDA Poll 2021: Australian views on the Australia-China relationship”, released today, found strong support for Chinese tourism to Australia with 74% of Australians agreeing tourists from China provide a major economic benefit to Australia, with only 9% disagreeing, while 63% believe Australia should continue towards making the nation an attractive destination for Chinese tourists.
Just over half of those surveyed (51%) believe encouraging tourism from China needs to be a post-COVID-19 priority for Australia, with 25% expressing neutrality.
More broadly, 61% of Australians believe the country should continue to try to build strong connections and ties, and have a strong relationship with China, while 62% said they see the benefits of Australia’s relationship with China. Another 63% agreed with the statement, “Without close engagement with China, Australia would not be as prosperous as it currently is.”
The survey follows a similar poll conducted by Australian Studies Centre at Beijing Foreign Studies University and Global Survey Centre in June 2020 which found Australia ranked second behind only Japan as the most desirable overseas destination for Chinese travellers, and first as a place to study abroad.
Today’s survey found that 76% of Australians believe international students from China provide a major economic benefit to Australia.
“The Chinese market was our biggest for inbound tourism pre-COVID and it will be critical that we get it back post pandemic if we are to facilitate a full recovery of the visitor economy – one of the nation’s four super growth industries,” said Margy Osmond, CEO of the Tourism and Transport Forum, upon release of this year’s survey.
“Chinese students in particular – apart from their importance to our education sector – provide a vital workforce for the hospitality and tourism and sectors and make a significant contribution to the visiting family and friends market that is of great importance to the visitor economy.”
Matt Bekier, CEO of Star Entertainment Group, said, “There is an incredible window of opportunity if we move safely and quickly to open the international borders.
“Asian tourism will drive the post-COVID tourism recovery. The pre-pandemic forecasts were undeniable. Australia was recording record levels of visitation and growth in tourism numbers was continuing to accelerate.
“Given the events of the past 18 months we will no doubt be an even more compelling destination once international travel returns.”