Rapidly expanding China Southern, the largest airline operating between Australia and China and one of the biggest carriers in the world, has called for more hotel rooms in major Australian cities and more restaurants open on weekends and public holidays.
The recent dramatic depreciation of the Australian dollar had helped to boost Chinese visitation to Australia, Lu said.
In 2014, China was Australia’s second largest inbound market for visitor arrivals and the largest market for total visitor expenditure and visitor nights. Figures recently released by Tourism Australia suggest that annual spending by Chinese visitors to Australia could rise to AUD 13 billion annually by 2020. Far more Chinese tourists fly in on China Southern than on any other airline.
China Southern plans to lift capacity by about 30% (to 46 return flights a week) by December and put on A380 services to Sydney over the summer peak season.
Lu told the Sydney Morning Herald Australia badly needed more hotels in its capital cities. He said the hotel room shortage was so acute the airline found it difficult even to accommodate its own crew.
Few Sydney hotels had more than 400 rooms and many were full.
“At the Mercure hotel we are staying at, they say the occupancy there year-round is 93%. It is difficult to position our crew in,” Lu told the paper.
Australia also needed to sharpen up its act to ensure restaurants were open on public holidays and weekends. Labour costs and penalty rates hindered that, Lu said.
Written by Peter Needham