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Qantas scraps direct flights to Shanghai as Chinese tourists stay away

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Since its borders reopened, the Chinese government has incentivised citizens to inject money into the domestic economy by travelling within China through policy initiatives such as launching duty-free shopping on the tourist island of Hainan.

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Meanwhile, the lack of Chinese tourists has caused havoc for Australia’s tourism and hospitality industries, which were banking on a stronger bounceback.

The country’s casinos and other entertainment precincts have struggled since their doors reopened without the steady drum of Chinese tourists bumping up their bottom line.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed the number of Chinese visitors in March was 58,240m – less than half the 124,370 who travelled over the same month in 2019.

The lack of Chinese tourists is expected to drain up to $130 billion from the international tourism industry this year, with outbound airline capacity still about 30 per cent lower than it was before COVID-19.

Chinese tourists spend more than any other nation in the world. In 2019, Chinese travellers made 170 million international trips according to data from the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute.

Chinese travellers were Australia’s top international visitors until the pandemic.Credit: Louise Kennerley

Across those trips they spent $248 billion and made up almost 15 per cent of the world’s foreign travel spending, as revealed by World Travel and Tourism Council data. But despite significantly less airline capacity between China and the rest of the world, analysts still expect it to regain its title as the biggest source of international tourism.

The World Travel and Tourism Council expects China’s outbound travel spending to increase to more than 20 per cent above pre-COVID-19 levels by 2025 and double by 2033.

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