Griffith University has opened the world’s first Tourism Confucius Institute.
Director Professor Colin Mackerras said the new Institute, located at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus, would give the University a unique connection to the Asian giant and further bolster its tourism credentials.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games Jann Stuckey congratulated Griffith University on the initiative when she officially opened the Institute on November 16.
“There are 12 Confucius Institutes in Australia, but this is the only one dedicated to tourism. The more we can do to promote and encourage travel through education, the wiser we will all be,” she said.
“The Newman Government has set a goal to grow overnight visitor expenditure in Queensland to $30 billion by 2020.
“In order to reach this target we need to better understand the diversification of the China market.
“The Confucius Institute will play an important role in tapping into our second largest tourism market. It is an invaluable addition to the hospitality industry, not just for the Gold Coast but for the entire State.”
Chinese tourism boom
The first courses begin next week and include an eight-week introductory Chinese language course aimed at tourism operators.
There were 551,000 Chinese visitors to Australia last year and this number is expected to continue to grow. It was up from 475,000 the year before. Of the total visitors last year, about 142,000 came to the Gold Coast.
Professor Mackerras said the links between Australia and China would only become stronger.
“China is already Australia’s top trading partner,” he said.
“The ‘Australia in the Asian Century‘ white paper issued at the end of last month emphasizes an increasingly wealthy and mobile middle class in the region, especially in China, which is creating a big demand for all sorts of Australian services.
“The fact that these services include tourism points to a future growth in the tourism market from an already high point. Australia must be ready for the increase.
“One other focus of the white paper is cultural understanding. Teaching of Chinese language and culture in Australia’s schools has not done at all well in the last decade.
“This is something that must be addressed if Australia is to be ready to take advantage of the opportunities. It’s also crucial that we understand Chinese culture because of itself. China is a country with a magnificent and very long-standing history and culture, which it is short-sighted to ignore.
“The core work of the Tourism Confucius Institute is to expand understanding of Chinese language and culture for tourists and organizations involved in tourism.”
Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter welcomed the initiative as a leading program to foster awareness and appreciation amongst local tourism businesses for how best to interact with both Chinese tourism businesses and consumers.
“As the Gold Coast’s fastest growing major visitor source market, China presents a substantial opportunity for the city’s $4.5 billion tourism industry,” he said.
“But it is one thing to increase Chinese visitor numbers, it is another thing entirely to develop a prosperous and sustainable market.”
“With the Tourism Confucius Institute at Griffith University promoting the learning of Chinese language and culture within the tourism industry and in the broader community, we have a far greater chance of achieving more lasting and sustainable tourism growth for the Gold Coast.”
The Institute is a joint venture with the Office of Chinese Language Council International and the China University of Mining and Technology. It was inaugurated in April last year, when one of China’s most senior leaders Jia Qinglin visited Australia, and now opens its doors in the new Griffith International Building.
Among guests attending the official opening today are Dr Sun Dali, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Brisbane and Professor Song Xuefeng, Vice President, China University of Mining and Technology.