According to Tourism Research Australia, there's very good news for operators in the Australian tourism industry - so long as you do it right.
China is now Australia’s largest inbound tourism source market, both in terms of volume and spend. Tourism Research Australia (TRA) forecast Chinese visitor numbers in Australia to reach 3.9 million in 2026–27.
What is most interesting is the spectacular growth in free and independent travellers (FITs). These are people who come on their own, as individuals or families (as distinct from organised tour groups).
According to the report, over the last 10 years FITs have contributed 50% of total growth in Chinese visitors. They are significantly outperforming the annual growth rate for the Chinese cohort overall, and annual growth rate for leisure visitors on an organised group tour.
This means that small tourism operators (wine tours, etc. etc.) can get confidently in the act, particularly those in regional areas. The FIT are more likely to drive out of the large cities to explore the regional centres of Australia, to find the authentic Australia - to discover its history, culture and lifestyle. FITs in Australia stay over three times longer than those on a package or organised group tour.
Time constraints were the main reasons for Chinese FITs not travelling out to regional areas.
Other obstacles included:
- a misconception that Australia’s large distances means very long travel times lack of transport options, with Chinese FITs having little alternative to self-drive vehicles
- a view, entrenched by the experiences and attitudes of Chinese society, that personal safety would be compromised in regional Australia
- inadequate tourism infrastructure such as roads leading to regional attractions
- accommodation failing to meet traveller expectations and a lack of free Wi-Fi (include Chinese language in this)
- regional destination websites that did not follow the Chinese way of thinking
- ageing regional tourism products that lack originality, innovation and appeal.
Our advice is to work with a profssional marketing company such as ours to ensure your offering meets Chinese FIT expectations.