Tourism

Opinion: Do we need a Chinese version of Crocodile Dundee?

Professor Sam Huang

If you haven’t seen the new Crocodile Dundee ad for US audiences, we suggest you do now, it’s wonderful.

Following the tourism report from earlier this week which found Chinese are the biggest visitors to Australia, Edith Cowan University’s Professor Sam Huang has penned an opinion piece questioning whether we need a Dundee ad for Chinese audiences.

Read his op-ed below.


While Tourism Australia’s Crocodile Dundee ad at the Super Bowl garnered American attention, wooing the Chinese tourism market may offer the nation more bang for its buck, Edith Cowan University (ECU) research suggests.

In 2016, China recorded 122 million outbound departures, with Australia capturing a mere one per cent of the market, coming in as the 13th most popular destination.

However, those who came spent $9.2 billion, showing the economic potential.

“Over the past two decades, the development of Chinese outbound tourism has been phenomenal, and it reflects the rapid change in society overall,” said Professor Huang from ECU’s School of Business and Law.

“While this shift is positive for overseas tourism providers, it also presents unknowns as to what affects Chinese people’s decisions to travel.”

To better understand what motivates holidaying choices, Professor Huang and Professor Xiang Wei of Beijing’s National Academy of Economics Strategy mined ‘The Survey of Chinese Economic Life’ – a comprehensive data source involving 36,490 participants.

They looked specifically at how socioeconomic variables like household income, paid leave, education and location affect decision-making.

They found a quarter of respondents intended to travel overseas, with education level being a significant factor – every additional level of schooling achieved raised the intention to travel to a foreign country by 19.6 per cent.

Underappreciated secondary cities

The study also strongly suggests tourism bodies would be wise to market to cities most Australians have never heard of, such as Yulin, Nantong or Yibin, for example – the latter two of which have populations of over 7 million people each.

“Marketing organisations should develop strategies aimed at residents in second-tier cities while maintaining marketing presence in first-tier cities in China such as Beijing and Shanghai,” Huang said.

“Second-tier and third-tier cities are where higher growth potential can be found.”

This represents a lot of potential visitors, as the study lists 33 second-tier and 92 third-tier cities.

Discontent is a motivator

The researchers also looked at links between people’s satisfaction with their lives and their intention to travel.

A whopping 79.4 per cent of respondents wanted to change their present situations.

“It seems in contemporary Chinese society, not being happy or content with life could be a push factor for people to consider outbound travel abroad,” Professor Huang said.

“It could be argued that China’s industrialisation has generated significant pressure on individuals, and feelings of isolation and uncertainty may make a foreign country more appealing.”

Could this suggest the laid-back, friendly and easy-to-connect-with Australian archetype – personified by Paul Hogan’s icon Dundee – represents exactly the kind of difference and change Chinese tourists are craving?

NOTES

In 2016, China recorded 122 million outbound departures, with Australia the 13th most popular destination, capturing a mere 1 per cent of this market.[1, 2]

However, those who came spent $9.2 billion. [2]

“We need to appreciate the diversity of Chinese culture – there is not a single China, but many regional differences with their own unique characteristics,” Professor Huang said.

 


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