Local tourism off to a flying start with China air deal
Growth opportunities for Australia's tourism industry are set to increase following the settlement of a landmark new air services agreement between Australia and China.
Deputy PM Warren Truss and Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb, who is responsible for tourism, announced the conclusion of negotiations between the two countries last week.
"Making it possible for Asian markets to grow has been a key priority for the government," Truss said.
"This new deal with China will allow Chinese airlines to almost triple their services to Australia over the next two years.
"Under the new arrangements, Australian and Chinese airlines will be able to immediately operate up to 26,500 seats per week between Australia's major gateway cities and Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou – an increase of 4000 weekly seats or around 18 per cent on these routes.
"A further 7000 weekly seats to and from these destinations will be phased in over the next two years, to a total of 33,500 weekly seats.
"This opens up opportunities for Australian airlines to better serve the China market."
Connectivity between economies
Robb said the new arrangements build on the success of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).
"Just as ChAFTA creates significant opportunities for Australian businesses in China, this new deal increases connectivity between our economies – particularly in tourism," Robb said.
"Last year, 100 million Chinese travelled abroad and this is set to double to some 200 million by 2020.
"Tripling aviation capacity from China into Australia over the next two years will ensure we are well placed to capture our share of this growth."
Coinciding with Chinese New Year
Robb said in 2013-14, nearly 760,000 Chinese travellers spent close to $5 billion in Australia, and with the hugely popular Chinese New Year around the corner, conclusion of the negotiations were most timely.
"China is our most valuable tourism export market. This agreement – along with the launch of the recent pilot program for online visa applications by Chinese visitors – means our tourism sector is well primed for 2015," Robb said.