New Tourism Australia boss warns of China slowdown

Tourism Australia’s new managing director has warned that tourist numbers from China are being affected by the ongoing trade war between the US and China, which is also putting a strain on Australia’s relationship with China.

Speaking to The Australian Financial Review, Phillipa Harrison said “the political situation was having a bit of an impact”.

“But we haven’t really seen that in a substantial way because most of the travellers who have come to Australia are free and independent travellers,” she said.

China is Australia’s No.1 tourism market, with more than 1.4 million Chinese tourists visiting Australia in the year to July. But the increase has slowed from double-digit growth to just 0.3 per cent in 2018-19.

Harrison said they that while they can’t control what happens on a political level, they can still effectively market to Chinese travellers to let them “know what we have to offer”.

“Beyond that we just don’t get involved in the politics of it all. But we are very careful how we market in China,” she said.

Harrison was still optimistic about future of the tourism industry despite global headwinds including Brexit.

“But I think the long-term future of tourism is very bright and there is still a huge amount of opportunity for Australia,” she said.

“Our natural assets are something that people want to come and see.”

In terms of TA’s new marketing strategy, she said they will focus on each market in a “more bespoke way” and steer clear of “big blanket campaigns”.