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China chasing Aussie tourists

AAP logoAAP 20/12/2016 Lilly Vitorovich

Two Australian tourists gives a thumb up in an ice bar in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province © Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock Two Australian tourists gives a thumb up in an ice bar in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province China is hoping to lure more Australian tourists as tourism offices in both countries work to boost two-way holiday travel.

China's national tourist office and six major Chinese airlines have joined forces with Tourism Australia to promote the two countries as part of the China-Australia Year of Tourism in 2017.

"This is one of the most significant tourism exchange initiatives ever undertaken between China and another country," Luo Weijian, director of the China National Tourist Office.

"One of our key objectives is to add greater capacity and more routes between Australia and China. This will attract more Australian visitors to China and it will facilitate continued growth in a market that is currently generating more than $9 billion in export revenue for Australia," Mr Luo said on Tuesday.

The China-Australia Year of Tourism was announced in April and formalised during a visit to Sydney of airline and tourism officials on Tuesday.

Australians rank thirteenth among international visitors to China, with more than 720,000 Aussies visiting mainland China each year, according to the China National Tourism Administration.

A major increase in carriers and direct routes into China is fueling Australian visits to China.

There are currently direct flights between Australia and 13 mainland Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an, home to the Terracotta Warriors.

In turn, more than one million Chinese visited Australia from July 2015 to June 2016 - up 23 per cent from a year earlier - and spent about $8.9 billion, up 27 per cent from a year ago, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

China is Australia's most valuable tourism market, expected to be worth more than $13 billion by 2020.

Next year is set to be a record year for Chinese tourists coming to Australia, both in terms of visit numbers and total spend across the travel and retail sector.

Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and Xiamen Air, have agreed to work towards increasing capacity between China and Australia and join marketing and promotion efforts.

To mark the Year of Tourism, a 6m-high inflatable panda and koala will be displayed at Darling Harbour on January 1.

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