by Will Koulouris
SYDNEY, May 15 (Xinhua) -- Chinese tourists should come to Australia even more, the head of Australia's tourism body said on Monday.
John O'Sullivan, managing director of Tourism Australia, spoke to Xinhua at a tourism event in Sydney on Monday, and said Australians are some of the most welcoming people in the world.
"We are saying to the Chinese from wherever you are, wherever you are from, come to Australia, because we see international visitation and international tourism as a great thing," O'Sullivan said.
"There have been some markets around the world that have not reacted as well to different nationalities coming into their cities, that is absolutely not the case here in Australia, we are welcoming, we are friendly, come once, come often."
The Australian Tourism Exchange is an annual event that puts tourism operators in contact with overseas buyers across the world, and O'Sullivan said China is by far the most heavily represented nation at the event.
"The leading source of buyers for the tourism market, no surprise, is China with over 129 buyers attending this year's show," O'Sullivan said.
"So, it's incredibly important as it gives the opportunity for some of the smaller operators in Australia to connect with buyers from markets like China."
One of the buyers from China, Wang Yonghong from Shenzhen CEPT, told Xinhua that the emergence of the burgeoning middle class, and the increase in prosperity that it has brought, has seen the nature of outbound traveller from China shift dramatically in recent times.
"About 10 years ago, since the middle class emerged in China, now these people are travelling, and they have more experience in travelling, they begin to change their travel mode," Wang said.
"So, nowadays, in the past three years, we have more of the tailor made packages for this emerging middle class," he added.
"And in the past three years, we have seen more FIT (Fully Independent Traveller) travelling modes, which have been emerging in China's market."
Along with the buyers and smaller companies, the larger operators were looking to further their relationships with China, and Simon McGrath, Chief Operating Officer for AccorHotels Pacific, told Xinhua that it is incredibly important to continually enhance the strong ties between the two nations.
"It's crucial, it's certainly a developing market in our region. And consumers from China are travelling throughout the world, and certainly they are choosing Australia as a preferred destination which is great," McGrath said.
"So, I think we must make sure that wave of (Chinese) tourism is suitably satisfied."
The cultural exchange between China and Australia is crucial, according to McGrath, who said there is "no doubt" that this is one of the keys to a long term and successful tourism relationship.
"There's a real understanding, and learning, and respect from both sides. It's a long game, and it's important to stay in that process for a long time," McGrath said.
"We develop that, and improve that every year, with consultants and support from Chinese markets."
McGrath maintained that there are ways in which Australian businesses should adapt to take advantage of the mutually beneficial opportunities created by not only the China Australia Year of Tourism, but via the development of the already strong ties that exist.
"I think all businesses need to make sure they have been to China, they have spent the time, paying the respect of really understanding the Chinese market. Anything that is done in this market needs to be genuine, it needs to have a long term view," McGrath said.