Queensland’s Hamilton Island has announced a valuable tie-up with Asian social media giant QQ.com as part of a plan to dramatically increase the number of Chinese visiting Australia.
Chinese visitors pumped $4.2 billion into the Australian economy in 2012, with tourist numbers from the rising superpower increasing 16 per cent to a record 625,000.
China is now Australia’s second largest inbound tourism market by volume, behind New Zealand and ranked number one by dollar value.
But experts say those numbers can grow much further, with Tourism Australia (TA) forecasting up to one million Chinese visitors every year by 2020.
It is now our most valuable inbound tourism market – and fastest growing, a TA spokesman said.
In a bid to boost its own market share, Hamilton Island has launched a new partnership with Asian internet giant Tencent, whose microblog site QQ.com is viewed as the Chinese version of Twitter and has an estimated 800 million active users.
China probably has more social media users than Facebook has worldwide – with China’s social media market nearly at one billion users, Hamilton Island’s Sophie Baker said.
Social media has become a modern-day postcard; a way to share your travel experiences instantly with friends, family and followers around the globe.
As well as setting up its own presence on QQ.com, Hamilton Island is staging its second Instameet event on May 17-19, with Chinese supermodel Li Ya Hong among those invited to take and share pictures of the Whitsundays attraction.
The island’s first Instameet event, in November, saw users of the photography app Instagram from America and Australia sharing pictures of Hamilton Island with an estimated eight million people around the world.
Next week’s Instameet can be followed on hamilton island or viewed on the hashtags #hamiltonisland and #return2paradise.
The island currently attracts about 2000 Chinese visitors annually but hopes to boost that number by at least 50 per cent every year.
Meanwhile, Chinese actor and pop star Ekin Cheng will visit NSW and QLD later this month.
Ekin and other Asian celebrities are filming a travel documentary made by commercial network TVB Hong Kong.