While there had been strong support for border closures in the past, a survey by Tourism Events Queensland showed people were looking for a return of tourism.
It coincided with TEQ’s data release showing occupancy in Queensland accommodation fell sharply in January, a peak month for tourism in the state.
It attributed the fall of 16 per cent to the snap lockdown in Greater Brisbane during the month.
There were regions that defied the downturn in occupancy. The Southern Great Barrier Reef and Southern Country Queensland both did better than January last year.
The survey comes as a Griffith University study found Chinese tourists are itching to travel to experience Queensland’s beaches and natural scenery, but are likely to reject potentially congested attractions like the Gold Coast’s famous theme parks.
The study led by Dr Xin Jin of Griffith University’s Business School shows beaches, scenic tourist cities and natural and cultural world heritage sites top the post-pandemic travel desires for Chinese tourists.
The TEQ survey showed a strong majority (73 per cent) were comfortable with other Queenslanders visiting their region and they were far more accepting of New Zealanders (61 per cent) than they were of Victorians (45 per cent) and people from NSW (55 per cent).
There was even 30 per cent who would welcome tourists from other countries.
TEQ said Queenslanders strongly believed tourism had a positive effect on their community, economy and business (92 per cent) and a strong majority believed that attending local events was an important way of the community getting back to normal.
Queenslanders also wanted to State Government to support events when restrictions allowed and believed that the Government should be involved in luring events.
The findings that Chinese tourists across all age groups and income brackets are ready to pack their bags and get travelling comes as the Gold Coast revealed it had increased its efforts to secure an influx of Chinese tourists once international travel is permitted.
Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said the city was pushing its natural assets to ensure it was poised to capture a post-pandemic flood of Chinese travellers.
“We are currently engaging with the travel industry and trade industry over there to remind them why they need to come to the Gold Coast when borders open,” O’Callaghan said. “We are sending videos and messages and attending international and virtual meetings. There are a whole heap of activities we have been working on to ensure we are front of mind.
“We know that relationships are key and it will be an important part of travel when borders open. We also know there’s pent up demand so for us, we want to stay engaged and keep reminding our international markets what they are missing out on and that we want to welcome them back with open arms.”
China is the Gold Coast’s largest international tourism market. Visitor numbers from China were up 2.2 per cent to 275,000 visitors in 2019 before the compounded events of the Australian bushfires and outbreak of COVID-19 decimated international travel.
Jin said the study, called Profiling and evaluating Chinese consumers regarding post-COVID-19 travel, was good news for tourism destinations heavily reliant on the Chinese market.
“The study shows there is a sizable and stable segment of mainland Chinese tourists and they are the main source market for a post-pandemic rebound in domestic and outbound travel, so it is important to understand their motivations and concerns,” she said.
“Our study suggests Chinese consumers will combine their recreational desires with health and safety concerns, ranking destinations like beaches, which also have more space for social distancing, higher than crowded destinations like theme parks.”
The study, among the first to combine tourism demand and the psychology of the Chinese traveller to evaluate what a post-COVID-19 tourism recovery could look like, suggested the rebound in international tourism would be quick once travel was perceived as relatively safe.
“Consumer psychology is a crucial factor in tourism recovery. Destinations promoting comfort and escape such as beach destinations could become popular for post-pandemic travel,” it found.
“Escape and scenery are top motivations for travel, whereas structural constraints like time and money and concern for health are the main travel barriers.”
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