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Chinese tourists spending large

By Greg Bell

Surfers Paradise has long been considered a perfect holiday destination for travellers from across Australia and the globe. The golden beaches and rolling surf of the Gold Coast already attracts a significant proportion of Queensland total touring visitors, but this number looks set to grow with new figures from IBISWorld unveiling the changing face of Australia's tourism industry. 

For those savvy investors who see Surfers Paradise as the ideal location to maximise their commercial property portfolio, hospitality and tourism could hold the key – visitors to Australian shores forecast to be worth $117.2 billion in 2014-15. It's estimated the tourism sector will grow 1.9 per cent over the next five years, according to IBISWorld figures, with revenue hitting highs of $128.6 billion by 2020. 

Changing face of Australian tourism

Since mid-2013 the weakening dollar has played a large role in tantalising inbound international travellers to Australian shores , partnered with burgeoning middle classes in emerging economies. While traditional markets lag behind because of disappointing economic performance, emerging economies streak ahead. 

Ryan Lin, IBISWorld industry analyst, says the expanding number of visitors mainly comes from neighbouring countries in the Asia Pacific, with visitors from China, Malaysia, Singapore and India all growing faster as sources of tourists than other traditional markets. 

IBISWorld shows that holiday-making still remains the top motivation for people to board the plane, with growth in this sector outpacing business, education, employment, and visiting family and friends.

However, in 2013 China overtook the United Kingdom as the second largest source of visitors to Australia – data from AusTrade confirms that Chinese tourists are flocking to Australia in great numbers, up 10 per cent to 736,000 by September 2014. In total, Chinese visitors spent 31,358 nights on Australian soil.

This coincides with increasing demand for  supply of serviced apartments on the Gold Coast as of June 2013, where demand was up 3 per cent according to Tourism and Events Queensland. 

Not only are they exploring, they have been spending large as well. Overall, Chinese tourists spent $4.8 billion in Australia in 2013, which is just over 16 per cent more than the previous year. Per head they spent an average of $7,418 each trip in 2014.  

These figures sit parallel with Chinese spending habits in Queensland for last year, where their expenditure also rose 16 per cent.  With revenue from these visitors continuing to boost the local economy, there are real opportunities to invest in commercial property in Surfers Paradise.

Luxury performance

The changing nature of Australian tourism offers Surfers Paradise some unique possibilities. Where traditional sources like the UK, Germany and United States are typified as the independent traveller, the expanding number of Asian visitors have different requirements – namely, their appreciation of luxury accommodation, travel and activities. 

"With non-traditional tourism markets now driving growth across the sector, savvy businesses are expanding their services in a bid to attract the growing number of Asian tourists seeking luxury experiences during their stay," said Mr Lin.

These travellers boost demand for retail space for international designer labels and high-end Australian brands, while businesses in the hospitality sector rely heavily on this kind of tourism activity, where more than 30 percent of revenue is contributed by tourists.

Premium hotels and upper tier apartments across the country are also feeling the effects of these cashed-up travellers, where there is evidence of markedly stronger returns than the cheaper end of the scale. This is where travellers, particularly those from Asia, are choosing to stay, while serviced apartments are also a growing aspect of hospitality. IBISWorld expects 3.1 per cent growth through to 2019-2020 across the country. 

With a new pool of tourists to draw from, the opportunities for commercial growth in Surfers Paradise are always expanding.

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