Wave Of Chinese Tourists Boosting Travel Industry In Pacific

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ANZ report says region must invest to ensure continued tourism growth

By Jemima Garrett

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 25, 2014) – A new wave of Chinese tourists is helping to boost growth in the Pacific tourism industry, a new report from the ANZ Bank says.

The bank's latest Pacific Economic Quarterly says a rise in tourist arrivals over the last 10 years has created new jobs and boosted government revenue, outpacing economic growth in the region.

Australians make up the majority of visitors to the region, however, a sharp increase of tourists from China is helping the sector expand.

Report author, ANZ Bank Asia Pacific economist Dan Wilson, said although China's overall economic growth is slowing down, a shift towards higher private consumption and income growth is providing new opportunities for the Pacific tourism sector.

"When we think about tourism from China we think about a massive market," Mr Wilson told Pacific Beat.

"To give you some numbers behind the figures, from 2009 to 2012 the percent of outbound tourists from China increased only from about 3.6 per cent of the pollution to about 6.1 per cent of the population.

"But in terms of absolute numbers this increased from about 50 million people to about 90 million people.

"So a small percentage change in the amount of people that are leaving the country are leading to big absolute effects." he said.

Tourism investment needed: report

Mr Wilson said the sector now needs to turn its attention to investment to ensure the region's tourism industry grows.

"When we look at the tourism industry we think Fiji is a fairly good model where we have seen very high levels of investment for a number of years and they have started to yield dividends," he said.

"So the tourism industry, both direct and indirect effects in Fiji, account for about 40 per cent of the economy and this has grown considerably over the past few decades.

"To really take advantage of the upcoming tourism boost coming from Chinese departures into the Pacific and more broadly globally, it is just going to take investment in tourism infrastructure and this is everything from hotels, to roads, airplanes, airports."

However, he cautioned that Pacific countries must not become too dependent on tourism and need to diversify.

With Australia and New Zealand still providing the vast bulk of tourists, Mr Wilson said the possibility of a weaker Australian dollar might see some tourists decide to holiday closer to home.

New Zealand dollar growth into Pacific tourism has increased by four to five per cent a year over the last few decades.

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