Australia-China relations important to casino performance

By William Brown Updated
Australia-China relations important to casino performance

An annual survey that investigates aspects of the relationship between Australia and China has found that a majority of Australians believes Chinese tourism provides economic benefits to Australia and should be a priority in its recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, with Australian casino operators looking to cash in on new tourists. 

Inside Asian Gaming reports that the survey, conducted by the Australia-China Relations Institute and the Centre for Business Intelligence and Data Analytics at the University of Sydney is described as the most comprehensive survey of public opinion on the Australia-China relationship to date.

It delves into everything from political communication, the triangular Australia-US-China relationship, trade and investment, military and security, society, university and research and global and regional cooperation.

It also comes at a time when Australia-China relations are particularly strained.

Asian tourism key to local casino growth

Star Entertainment Group chief executive Matt Bekier said: “There is an incredible window of opportunity if we move safely and quickly to open the international borders.

“Asian tourism will drive the post-COVID tourism recovery. The pre-pandemic forecasts were undeniable. Australia was recording record levels of visitation and growth in tourism numbers was continuing to accelerate.

“Given the events of the past 18 months, we will no doubt be an even more compelling destination once international travel returns.”

Seventy four per cent of surveying Australians agreed that tourists from China provide a major economic benefit to Australia.

Just over half of those surveyed, 51 per cent, believe encouraging tourism from China needs to be a post-COVID-19 priority for Australia.

More broadly, 61 per cent of Australians believe the country should continue to try to build strong connections and ties and have a strong relationship with China, while 62 per cent said they see the benefits of Australia’s relationship with China.

Another 63 per cent agreed with the statement, “Without close engagement with China, Australia would not be a prosperous as it currently is.”

The survey follows a similar poll conducted by Australian Studies Centre at Beijing Foreign Studies University and Global Survey Centre in June 2020, which found Australia ranked second behind only Japan as the most desirable overseas destination for Chinese travellers and first as a place to study abroad.

Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond said the Chinese market is Australia’s biggest for inbound tourism and will be critical that we get it back post pandemic.

“Chinese students in particular, apart from their importance to our education sector, provide a vital workforce for the hospitality and tourism sectors and make a significant contribution to the visiting family and friends market that is of great importance to the visitor economy.”

International tensions not a concern for casino CEO

China’s decision to “indefinitely” suspend all activity under the Australia-China Strategic Economic Dialogue could provide a significant obstacle to the return of VIP players to Australian casinos.

Star Entertainment chief executive officer Matt Bekier said he isn’t too concerned about the latest geopolitical development between the two nations.

“I’m probably a bit more optimistic that people will do what they’ll do,” Mr Bekier said.

“That’s not to say that there won’t be a number of months of challenges in the government relations,” he said.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission said in a short statement that recently, some of the Australian Commonwealth Government officials launched a series of measures to disrupt the normal exchanges and cooperation between China and Australia.

The commission did not say in the statement what specific actions prompted the action.

Bilateral ties between the two countries were first strained in 2018 when Australia became the first company to publicly ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G network.

Relations worsened in 2020 when Australia called for an independent investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus.

Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan said the commission’s decision was disappointing, because the economic dialogue was “an important forum for Australia and China to work through issues relevant to our economic relationship.”

“We remain open to holding the dialogue and engaging at the ministerial level,” he said.

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