Australian and Chinese airlines will be able to fly an unlimited number of passengers between the two countries under a new agreement announced Sunday, which officials say will boost tourism in the coming years.
The agreement removes previously existing restrictions on the number of seats that airlines could offer between major cities in the two countries. Chinese tourists are increasingly coming to Australia for their holidays, lured by the country’s reputation as being clean and green.
“China is Australia’s fastest growing and highest spending international visitor market,”Steven Ciobo, Australia’s minister for trade, tourism and investment, said in a press release. In the year that ended in June, about 1.1 million Chinese visitors came to Australia, up 22% from the previous year and second only to New Zealand.
Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia’s largest airline, said the new deal lays “the foundations for long-term growth in the Australia-China aviation network, at a time when the Qantas Group has its biggest ever presence in the market.” Qantas recently announced a new service connecting Sydney and Beijing.
Sydney Airport has taken steps to better welcome Chinese visitors, such as arranging “airport ambassadors” who speak Mandarin, signage and certain retail, food and beverage offerings. The airport announced six new routes to China this year, and beginning in January will serve 14 routes from Chinese cities.
“We’re delighted this new agreement recognizes the huge potential of the Chinese market to Australia’s tourism and trade,” Sydney Airport CEO Kerrie Mather said in a statement.