Chinese tourists, the biggest market opportunity for Australian retail stores

Australian Chinese tourism market

According to official data from the Australian Tourism organization, in 2019 China was the second largest tourism market in terms of arrival for Australia. Chinese people are high spenders. One Chinese will spend around US$7,000 instead of US$3,500 for most other citizens. Chinese tourists are the biggest spenders in Australia with a  total expenditure of US$8.3 in 2019. Chinese visiting Australia are also staying longer than others. Chinese tourism in Australia in 2023 is only waking up after the COVID travel limitations dismantle in china. Strategy expects China to reach US$6 billion in total expenditure by 2024.

The return of foreign students from China in 2023 will also increase the nation’s gross domestic product by another 0.4 percentage points, totaling nearly a full percentage point, and a full recovery in tourism will contribute another 0.5 percentage points.

Although Australia removed the Covid-related travel ban in July of last year, the number of short-term foreign arrivals there is still significantly below pre-pandemic levels.

Chinese New Year, is the perfect time for Chinese travelers to visit Australia …

Chinese Lunar New Year 2014

Every year, there are more and more Chinese tourists decide to go to Australia for their Lunar New Year holidays. In 2018, 160,000 Chinese travelers went to Australia during Chinese New Year, the Australian Tourism organization expected this number to rise by 20% to reach 200,000 in 2019.

At first, an unfitted strategy …

gucci china

The retail sector is the one that benefited from Chinese tourist’s spending and more specifically the fashion, and apparel market. According to Angelica Cheung, China’s vogue editor-in-chief, if Australia has been having some issues with attracting Chinese tourists to buy Australian apparel products, is because Australian brands didn’t catch up to the fact the Chinese traveler has changed.

Thanks to a growing middle class, better standard of living, and widely used digital media, the new Chinese fashion consumer is not only looking for luxury brands but also for more casual, easy-to-wear clothes. Australian brands should not only focus on the traditional Chinese who saved for years to buy a luxury goods, but also on the upper-class Chinese market and the middle class (most Chinese tourists are in this category). She also added that Australian brands should communicate on what makes them so unique that the Chinese consumer should buy them.

but now getting better at it, and attracting Chinese tourists to purchase …

However, It seems that Australia is getting savvier on this subject. According to Timothy Coghlan, founder of the Australia China Fashion Alliance, an organization in charge of promoting relationships in the fashion sector between the two countries, designer exchange programs,, and so on, Chinese consumers are not only looking for luxury items but also a mixture of brands.  To leverage this important potential market, thus, attracting Chinese travelers, several brands and shopping malls decided to tailor their marketing approach to the Chinese customer. As an example, David Jones, a high-end department store, hired more than 200 mandarin-speakers employees and offered the possibility for Chinese clients to pay with UnionPay (a bit like Visa in Europe). Some other red-gold colored decorations, as well as Chinese written signs, could be seen in major shopping malls in Australian big cities. They even launched in partnership with M. Coghlan Fashion Alliance, a special Lunar New Year fashion designer collection.


With more than 660 million internet users in China and about 90% having at least one account on a social media platform. Australian retail stores didn’t forget about the importance of social media to attract Chinese customers. As an example, Harrols use WeChat and Weibo, the two main Chinese social media platforms to communicate with their Chinese consumers.

To conclude …

If a fashion Australian retailer wants to attract even more Chinese tourists to buy, it will have to review its market segmentation, use widely the Chinese language and cultural norms (colors, etc.) as well as be actively present on Chinese social media.

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