Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said the new direct service between Chengdu and Melbourne, expected to be launched by Sichuan Airlines, was the latest example of the China growth opportunity being fulfilled.
“Chengdu represents one of China’s fastest emerging secondary cities and largest aviation hubs in central western China, and has the potential to open up significant new markets for us. Our research has clearly demonstrated the appetite for travel amongst the new middle classes in these cities but, to fully realise these opportunities it’s critical that we get more capacity and, in particular, more direct flights,” Mr McEvoy said.
He said that Chengdu was one of three new cities in China that Tourism Australia planned to target next year, using money from the Government’s new Asia Marketing Fund, and as part of its broader China geographic strategy of deepening its marketing footprint into the country’s secondary cities.
In April this year, Tourism Australia led a high level delegation of Australia’s leading airports, including Melbourne, to Chengdu, to attend Routes Asia 2012 - Asia’s leading aviation route development forum.
“Securing more aviation capacity into Australia from China was a key feature of our discussions and networking in Chengdu. It was also a great opportunity to demonstrate to Asian carriers our industry’s renewed commitment towards speaking and acting with a single voice when it comes to marketing our country overseas.
“Melbourne Airport are to be congratulated for their foresight in developing such strong links with Chengdu, through the ‘sister airport’ relationship they established at Routes Asia. Their success in securing Sichuan Airlines represents a significant win for this ‘Team Australian’ approach and, together with Tourism Victoria, we plan to market this new route hard,” Mr McEvoy said.
Mr McEvoy said that growing the China inbound market was critical to Australian tourism achieving its Tourism 2020 goal to double overnight visitor expenditure to up to A$140 billion annually by the end of the decade.