2019 is the Year of the Pig in the Chinese Lunar Year calendar, and Feb is the month of celebration as the new year begins. The Pig is the twelfth of the zodiac animals, and it is in that position because myth has it that the Pig was last to the party because it had overslept, which caused the delay in its arrival and relegated the Pig to last spot.
While I am sure this is a very interesting historical fact to all those readers of this column, the important point is that over the months of Jan and Feb this year about one third of all inbound Chinese tourists for 2019 will arrive in Australia - that’s about 300,000 visitors. China continues to be our most important inbound market and there appears to be little that will cause a decline in the forecast for a continued strong growth in movement from China to Australia.
For the outbound industry, it is also pleasing to see that the numbers of Australians heading to China continue to be strong and in growth which is a good sign for the continued and important aspect of the ongoing debate that tourism needs to be a two-way balance in order for larger markets to maintain an interest in Australia. This is particularly important for China as the Chinese Government has so much control over where its citizens can travel and so we must ensure we maintain strong, frank and honest dialogue with the Chinese tourism industry and the government alike.
One of the main reasons AFTA supports the World Tourism Alliance, which was formed a few years ago in China, is to ensure that an open dialogue continues to ensure a strong understanding of the market, the needs of the market and how together Australia and China can achieve much greater results for each other by working together.
So to all those in the Australian travel industry that have an interest in China, a desire to travel to China, or have been talking to clients about a holiday in China, I wish you a very Happy Lunar New Year and all the very best for this the Year of the Pig. As a final fun fact, if you were born in 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995 or 2007, this is also your year as these are the previous “Years of the Pig” as the zodiac animal calendar falls.