|Signs at Shanghai airport. Brisbane Airport is adding Mandarin translations to its signage in a bid to lure more big-spending Chinese tourists. Picture: AFP|
With Chinese visitors to Australia expected to bring more than $13 billion into the country by 2020, airports are going to extremes to accommodate the big spending tourists and business people.
Brisbane this week became the second airport to sign a memorandum of understanding with a major Chinese airport, following on from Melbourne’s deal with Chengdu in 2012.
The Brisbane Airport Corporation has teamed up with Shanghai in the hope of stitching up direct flights from China Eastern Airlines and other Chinese carriers that currently give the Queensland capital a miss.
To sweeten the deal, Brisbane International Airport will add Mandarin translations to signage, upgrade retail spaces and provide culturally appropriate food and beverage choices.
The airport’s website will also be available in Chinese, and “special services” will be provided for Asian arrivals to smooth their arrival.
The moves mirror those already undertaken by Sydney and Melbourne airports, which appear to have got the jump on the booming Chinese tourist market.
Figures from Tourism Research Australia show just 13 per cent of visitors from Shanghai made it to Brisbane in June, compared with 65 per cent who visited Sydney, and 53 per cent who called on Melbourne.
Even Cairns and the Gold Coast both attracted 24 per cent of the Shanghai market — the largest source of inbound tourists from China.
By 2020, Chinese visitors are expected to top the one million mark Australia-wide, and pump as much as $13 billion a year into the national economy.
Brisbane Airport Corporation general manager of airline and retail management Andrew Brodie said the airport wanted to position itself to take advantage of that growth by securing more direct flights from China.
“China Eastern (the major carrier out of Shanghai) is obviously a priority for Brisbane Airport, not only from a tourism perspective but from a business connectivity perspective,” Mr Brodie said.
“Shanghai is the finance capital of China and over the course of the next five to 10 years, Brisbane Airport wants to be the gateway into Australia so it’s important we build the relationships early.”
Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan said it was great to see Brisbane Airport proactively targeting the Chinese market.
“The deal with Shanghai is further evidence of Brisbane’s growing importance as a key international gateway to Australia,” said Mr O’Sullivan.