A recent survey of over 1,200 Chinese alumni who studied in Australia, and are now living in China has helped to uncover the true value that international students from China add to Australia's tourism industry. A large percentage of those surveyed indicated that they have already returned, or intend to return to Australia to holiday or visit friends. Considering that Chinese students make up 40% of annual international student enrollments in Australia, their value to the tourism industry is immense.
The clean environment, natural beauty and friendly people were cited as some of the main reasons why the surveyed alumni planned to return to Australia.
Victoria University recently published an article detailing their research and findings;
International education and tourism from China have potential for much greater returns for Australia, according to new research.
Academics met with government and industry groups at Victoria University on Friday to discuss the latest research on how to more effectively harness the economic potential of international student alumni for tourism.
Lead author of the research from Victoria University’s Centre for Tourism and Services Research, Dr Joanne Pyke, said Chinese students accounted for more than 40% of the 500,000 international students who enrol annually.
“We’re beginning to appreciate the short term benefits of international education for the tourism industry, but no one has really considered the major long term contribution of international alumni and their influence on two-way travel between China and Australia,” Dr Pyke said.
With much better university alumni data now available, researchers at Victoria University, the Australia China Alumni Association (ACAA) and the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) in Beijing have surveyed more than 1200 alumni living in China about how often they stay in touch with Australia and the tourism they engage in.
Results showed 64% of alumni returned to Australia in the past five years at least once, while 93% intend to travel to Australia at least once in the next five years.
“The power of alumni lies in the fact that they are professional, bi-lingual and have a transnational perspective,” Dr Pyke said.
Edward Smith, co-author and founder of the ACAA, said the research highlighted just how much the economic potential of alumni had been overlooked.
“The alumni surveyed alone had made more than 2,000 trips between Australia and China in the past five years, contributing some AU$3-AU$10m to the economy and a further $2-$3m in airfares,” he said. “If we plan to grow this group over time we have to better understand their needs.”
The research identified several barriers to travel including cost, inconvenience of flights and difficulties in obtaining a visa, especially for family and friends. Alumni also reported a lack of knowledge about what they could do in Australia other than visit the main cities.
To read the article in full, click here.