Australia has ranked highly in a new survey of Chinese travellers, but the challenge is on to actually attract those tourists.
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15 Jul 2014 - 4:15 PM  UPDATED 15 Jul 2014 - 6:09 PM

As China's middle-class grows, so too does their spending power, and ability to travel.

Many are already jumping onto planes to travel the world. The Tourism Administration of China says 97 million Chinese tourists travelled overseas, up 14 million from 2012.

Chinese tourists are spending much more money than anyone else, with a record US$129 billion spent in 2013, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

But the potential for that to grow is incredible, given only 5 per cent of China's more than one billion citizens holds a passport.

They're also becoming increasingly confident to travel independently and try new destinations, with online booking making it easier to travel, and low-cost operators making it cheaper to fly.

The opportunities for Australia are massive.

An annual survey of Chinese international travel by online booking site, Hotel.com, identifies Australia as the number one destination Chinese tourists would like to travel to.

One on two respondents named Australia as their preferred destination, with older travellers likely to choose to fly down under.

Chinese International Travel Monitor 2014

The challenge however, is to actually attract those tourists.

The number of Chinese visitors to Australia has doubled in just under four years, while over the next four years, economists at CommSec expect China to surpass New Zealand as Australia’s primary source of tourists.

The latest data from the Bureau of Statistics shows the annual number of Chinese tourists hit a record high of 761,600 in May, an increase of 11.9 per cent on a year ago.

But the Hotels.com survey says in reality, most Chinese tourists are actually booking holidays in the USA, Hong Kong and Thailand. Australia doesn't make the top 10.

It calculates that ranking by the number of room nights booked on the company's Chinese website in 2013.

Adding to the appeal of Australia, Chinese tourists identified Australia as the most welcoming nation, followed by Singapore and France.

If this survey is anything to go by, then Australia has to do more to attract this growing market.

It also notes that the top overseas destinations by number of searches in the first five months of 2014 on the Hotels.com Chinese website doesn't include any Australian cities in the top 20. Hong Kong leads that list, followed by Taipei, Seoul and Singapore.