Australia is in the grip of a new gold rush – tourists from China – with Melbourne Airport reporting a 15% jump in international visitors last month.
Tourists from China were up 58% from last year. In absolute numbers, New Zealanders still led the way with 48,500 arrivals, with the Chinese coming up fast in numbers with 27,000 passing through Melbourne alone.
Already, Melbourne Airport has introduced signs and announcements in Mandarin at the airport as well as Chinese cultural training for front-line staff. Tourism pocket guides are printed in Chinese.
Greg Hywood, chief executive of Tourism Victoria, expects Chinese tourists to overtake New Zealanders in the next four years.
"China is going to be a huge provider of export income through tourism," he was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying. "If 120 million Japanese transformed the global tourism industry 20 years ago, what are 1.4 billion Chinese going to do?"
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