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Australian wine boom in China boosts wine tourism

Chinese consumers’ strong interest in Australian wines has spawned a booming wine tourism industry with a major tour operator reporting a steep increase of tours from 38 in 2013 to more than 700 in 2016.

Chinese tourists in Sydney (Source: Tamara Dean)

From 2015 – the year when the two countries signed a Free Trade Agreement – to 2016, the number of tours for Chinese tourists to major wine regions in Australia saw a sharp increase from 253 to 760, said AAT Kings, a leading tour operator in Australia and New Zealand.

The number of tours in 2017 could even surpass last year, the company predicted, based on the strong performance shown in the first quarter with 231 confirmed bookings.

The growing number of tours corresponds with Australian wines’ growing popularity in China. With the FTA agreement, Mainland China has surpassed the UK as the number one market for Australian wines by value.

Its position was farther consolidated in the financial year 2016-2017, according to Wine Australia, as the country led wine exports by value with a staggering 44% increase to AU$607 million.

The large influx of Chinese tourists, mainly aged between 20-40 years old, generally head for wineries in Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Tamar Valley in Tasmania and Margaret River in Western Australia, the company revealed.

A growing number of Australian wineries are capitalising on the opportunity and have hired Mandarin – or Cantonese-speaking tour guides including De Bortoli, Gemtree Wines in South Australia’s McLaren Vale and Jacob’s Creek, wrote ABC News

The large number Chinese tourists arriving on the shore of Australia in general also gave a lucrative boost to local tourism industry. In 2016, cashed-up Chinese tourists, already the second largest tourist group to Australia, spent a record of AU$8.3 billion, a 45% increase from previous year, according to a report by Industry Consultants Deloitte.

With expected additional tariff reduction on Australian wines in the coming year based on the FTA agreement, wine tourism in Australia is set to welcome more eager Chinese tourists.

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