Surge in Chinese tourists to test industry
TOURISM operators are being warned they might not be able to cope with the sheer volume of Chinese holidaymakers heading to the Far North and Australia.
Industry players were told at a Cairns Airport Chinese New Year yum cha lunch lastweek that the forecasts may be well underestimated.
Official figures are forecasting 200,000 Chinese travelling to the Far North by 2015, 429,000 to Queensland by 2016 and 860,000 to Australia by 2020.
The figures are based on International Air Transport Association figures of 77 million Chinese people travelling overseas by 2015.
But acting Advance Cairns chief executive officer Bill Calderwood said new information he had received showed Chinese government officials predicting 200 million by 2020, double that of initial estimates of 100 million.
The former Tourism Tropical North Queensland chairman and former acting PATA chief executive officer said the new forecast figures were "very large numbers".
He said 100 million could possibly be reached by the end of this year or next. Last year, there were 82 million Chinese who travelled overseas.
"If 100 million is correct then the 1 million to Australia and 200,000 to the tropical north are possibly under-done," he said.
TTNQ chief executive officer Rob Giason said the 77 million was based on air travel and there were possibly another 23 million travelling by train, car and boat.
However, he said, there were 220 new airports being built in China at a cost of $1.5 trillion.
"I think we are shy on numbers ... we are going to have to be fleet of foot when the market starts to accelerate," Mr Giason said.
"There are signs that we are going to get caught ... we will need to work fast."
Mr Giason said he was still confident the region would attract 200,000 Chinese by 2015, nearly double that of existing figures (102,000).
He said it was essential the China Eastern three services a weekbecame daily and that China Southern upgraded its seasonal direct flights to scheduled services.
Mr Giason said the finance sector needed to seriously look at investing in new hotels and other tourism products.
Cairns Airport CEO Kevin Brown said: "We need to have continuous incentives for investment in our region."
Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey said her visit to China last year with property developers had resulted in increased interest in Chinese investment in the state's tourism industry.
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