Australia will be rolling out the red carpet for Chinese tourists with a string of initiatives to entice the nation's growing middle class to come spend their money Down Under.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared 2017 the year of Australian/Chinese tourism, with events and initiatives in both countries aimed at encouraging visitors at either end.
"The more Chinese come to Australia, Australians go to China, the closer we become together, the better we understand each other," he told reporters at Shanghai's Expo Centre on Thursday.
China is Australia's most valuable tourism market, contributing $8.3 billion to the economy with more than one million visitors last year.
A $6 million agreement focused on advertising and data sharing signed between Tourism Australia and Air China on Thursday morning aims to ensure they keep on coming in droves.
Australia will trial changes to visa applications in a bid to entice more travellers, including:
- Reducing the number of visa categories from eight to two making it easier for Chinese students to study in Australia
- 10-year validity visas
- Visa applications in Mandarin (first time it's been in another language)
A new smartphone-friendly digital platform will focus on selling Australia to China's 700 million smartphone users.
"It makes Australia more accessible, more available, more compelling as a tourism destination," Mr Turnbull said.
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