Australian tourism continues to press hard on its high-risk, high-yield embedded agent strategy that officials hope can harness the power of the outbound Chinese travel market - the jewel in the global travel sector -announcing, Tuesday, the first rollout of China-based travel agents.
Tourism Australia has banked on isolating an elite selection of China-based travel agencies to spearhead a new, high-yield distribution network focused upon selling high quality Australian holiday packages to China's rapidly growing middle classes.
According to TA officials, a total of 31 specialist agents will represent the vanguard of a Key Distribution Partners (KDP) program.
A program that initially drives travelers from primarily 'Tier 1' cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen), followed by a selection of 'Tier 2' cities, including Nanjing, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Chengdu and Chongqing.
Tourism Australia Managing Director, John O'Sullivan, said the new program formed a core component of its China strategy towards attracting more independent, higher spending Chinese visitors seeking higher quality visitor experiences.
"The vast majority of international travel out of China is still booked through travel agencies, and under this program we believe we've identified the best of the best, who have the commitment and capability to help us engage with this new breed of more sophisticated Chinese traveler seeking to build a much richer and higher quality holiday experience," Mr O'Sullivan said.
"The agents we have selected already have a solid understanding of the Australian tourism market, as well as established relationships with exactly the type of high yield consumer we want to engage with as part of our Chinese marketing activities."
The program, will drive joint marketing activities while also allowing agents to independently develop new and innovative Australian tourism products which will appeal to higher yield Chinese travelers.
Mr. O'Sullivan said Tourism Australia would be encouraging Australian tourism operators with similarly aligned target segments to support the KDP program.
"We firmly believe that those Australian tourism businesses who engage most strongly with our preferred Chinese distribution partners will reap the greatest benefits from the program."
O'Sullivan says the feedback from other markets such as Singapore featuring similar distribution programs, has been very positive.
Tourism consultant, Andrea Plawutsky, Director of Amplify Me said Australian tourism operators must become truly China savvy if they are to attract the key China market to the industry.
Based in China for seven years and fluent in mandarin, Plawutsky is in a good position to know what makes these tourists tick.
She said, "Chinese born after the 1980s that are more worldly now; there is an the emerging middle class seeking more adventure, activities and experiences."
The new TA agent distribution strategy will reportedly be supported by increased advertising spending, with all eyes in the Australian industry focused squarely on nurturing the Chinese traveler.
New and innovative itineraries and programs, designed to meet the needs of Australia's target market in China, will also be developed and promoted by Tourism Australia, including through its China website, www.australia.
China is Australia's fastest growing and most valuable inbound tourism market, with around 760,000 Chinese visitor arrivals spending more than 5 billion Australian dollars (4.6 billion U.S. dollars) in the past 12 months.
Figures recently released by Tourism Australia suggest that annual spending by Chinese visitors to Australia could rise to 13 billion Australian dollars (11.2 billion U.S. dollars) by 2020.