Time to say Ni Hao, Australia
Reading about G’day USA, got me thinking – it’s time that we have a Ni Hao China event.
G’day USA is an annual event in Los Angeles to promote Australian tourism and trade opportunities with the US and has been going on for a decade. Most famous for the celebrities it attracts.
Yet our top trading partner is China, followed by Japan then the US. Last year Australia and China celebrated 40 years of diplomatic recognition.
All the indicators point to China for future growth opportunities: growing middle class; economically strong and becoming stronger; our most valued customer for our mining sector; not to mention cultural linkages.
Take Sydney, the most common language spoken after English are the Chinese languages. Chinese tourists flock to Sydney and Australia for Lunar New Year celebrations each year, which this year will take place on February 10.
Last year’s Sydney’s Chinese New Year Festival attracted 600,000 people across all festival events. An estimated 150,000 people from China and across Asia also visited Sydney.
Research commissioned by Tourism Australia found a record 542,000 Chinese visited Australia during 2011, around 20 percent growth on 2010.
Not only are Chinese visiting in record numbers, they are also spending at record levels. Overnight expenditure is more than $3.8 billion, making it our most valuable export market.
By 2020, Chinese visitors have the potential to bring in excess of $7 billion and $9 billion each year into the Australian economy, more than doubling their current economic contribution.
There are 100,000 students enrolled in Australia, from China, and several thousand Australian students come to China to study.
In 2011, China became the largest single source of migrants to Australia, overtaking the United Kingdom.
The Federal Government is pursuing an upgrading of Australia’s relationship with China, similar to the US, Japan and Indonesia.
The proposal includes an annual leaders’ summit. Australia has a similar summit with the United States, AUSMIN. Held annually, alternating between Australia and the United States, bringing together Ministers and Secretaries responsible for Foreign Affairs and Defence.
Former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam writing in 2002 said:
The policy of foreign engagement, based on working with China, such a policy will be in turn readily understood and accepted by China. Seldom have the paths of national honour and rational self interest run in such close parallel.
Perhaps Tourism Australia in the spirit of “rational self interest” should consider moving G’day USA to Ni Hao China.
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