Chinese tennis superstar Li Na has started a boom in Asian visitors that could be “more valuable than Oprah” for tourism.
Australian Open officials have confirmed that fifth seed Li has been the driving force behind a 30% rise in ticket sales to China for this year’s event.
Li made a historic first grand slam final appearance by a Chinese player at the Australian Open last year before going on to win the French Open.
Tourism and Transport Forum boss John Lee said the spike in Chinese visitors coming to watch Li in Australia this year was already benefiting tourism. “The Chinese fans are not only visiting Melbourne, they will visit Sydney, the Barrier Reef and Uluru,” he said.
“She’s made a successful start to 2012 and if that continues Li could be more valuable to Australian tourism than Oprah. Li is one of the most recognised people in China and she spends a considerable amount of time in Australia every year,” he said.