Are you China ready?

In 2012, China became Australia’s second largest source market, with over half a million visitor arrivals. Tourism Australia believes the China market has the potential to be worth up to $9 billion by the end of the decade.

However despite the scale of the opportunity ahead, questions are increasingly being asked about whether Australia in general, and the accommodation industry in particular, is ready to deal with the China demand ahead. As Tourism Australia’s CEO, Andrew McEvoy warns, “If we’re not fully prepared, the Asian Century will pass us by.”

To discuss Australia’s readiness for the coming China tourism boom, and some of the key issues that need to be considered by accommodation providers and tourism operators in their planning for this market segment, an esteemed panel of highly experienced China experts will speak in Sydney at the region’s leading accommodation industry conference, HotelsWorld Australia New Zealand, on 24 July.

Speakers at the session comprise:

» James Yang, chief representative South Pacific, UnionPay International

» Xu Haijing, Canberra bureau chief, Xinhua News Agency

» Bruce Dover, chief executive, Australia Network

» Geoff Parmenter, executive director, corporate affairs & communications, Echo Entertainment; and

» Garry Crockett, global executive chairman, China Ready & Accredited

James Yang heads UnionPay in the South Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand. UnionPay is the credit card exclusively used throughout China. Over 3.5 billion cards have been issued in China and in more than 30 other countries, enabling card acceptance in 140 countries and regions. Around 700,000 cardholders visit Australia every year, making UnionPay uniquely placed to identify what goods and services its Chinese (and other) cardholders want, as well as what they think about what we are presently offering.

Ms Xu Haijing is Canberra bureau chief of Xinhua News Agency, which is China’s official national and international media agency and controls television, radio, newspapers and all other forms of digital and print media. Xinhua is also used as a think tank by the Chinese government to keep its leadership informed and reports on a wide range of issues, including Chinese travellers views on the standards and service quality of Australian hotels! She is a veteran journalist and has worked as copy editor, reporter, and chief editor at Xinhua’s International News Department in Beijing for 18 years.

Bruce Dover has more than 30 years’ experience in the Australian and international media. An award winning foreign correspondent, he is former deputy editor of The Australian newspaper, founding editor of Business Asia magazine and was Rupert Murdoch’s man on the ground in China for much of the 1990’s. He is also author of a book titled Rupert’s Adventures in China – How Murdoch Lost A Fortune And Found A Wife. He returned to Sydney to head News Interactive, then in 2000 joined CNN International as managing editor (Asia) and was chief executive of ABC TV’s Australia network from 2007 to 2012. He is one of a small group of westerners who have a deep understanding of China and its people.

Geoff Parmenter recently joined the Echo Entertainment Group, which operates four hotel and casino complexes – The Star in Sydney, Jupiters Hotel & Casino on the Gold Coast, Treasury Casino & Hotel in Brisbane and Jupiters Townsville. He is responsible for their communications and corporate affairs across the group. He has only returned to Australia to take up this position having been contracted for 12 months to help the city of Istanbul in their bid for the 2020 Olympic Games. Before that Geoff was chief executive officer at Events NSW and responsible for putting in place a whole new strategy to use major events and festivals to grow visitation to New South Wales. Geoff’s prior experience also includes; head of marketing strategy & communications for Football Federation Australia and general manager marketing & strategy for the Australian Rugby Union, during the exciting time of the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

Garry Crockett was appointed as global executive chairman of China Ready & Accredited (CRA) by its Chinese stakeholders in 2011. CRA has been created to deliver a global system of training and accreditation, which provides Chinese consumers with an assurance of a pre-determined level of service quality, when interacting with product and service providers outside mainland China. Garry has a long history of commercial involvement in Asia, where he established and operated a successful funds and asset management business in the 1980’s. He is also executive chairman of the Crockett Group, an Australian private company with commercial interests in property development and investment, as well as hotels/hospitality ownership and management. Amongst many other roles Garry is also the current chairman (and a founding director) of the Accommodation Association of Australia.

In 2013, HotelsWorld and its pre-event, Hotel Franchise World, are expected to welcome over 400 delegates, as well as over 50 sponsors, exhibitors and supporters. Hosted by hotel consultants Horwath HTL Australia and legal firm Ashurst, the two events are part of Hotels Megameet, being five linked and co-located accommodation industry events held in Sydney over three days between 23 and 25 July 2013 and expected to host over 1000 delegates.

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