Australia is the top destination in the world for Chinese travellers with two surveys putting it as the favoured destination for tourists and immigrants from China.

Australia was one of the first countries to obtain approved destination status (ADS) in 1999 and since then has become very popular with Chinese people, the surveys show. The ADS designation allows Chinese tourists to visit in organized, pre-sold tourist groups.

According to the latest Visa PATA Travel Intentions Survey more than half the travellers surveyed from mainland China say they intend to travel to Australia over the next two years, and their top three priorities are natural scenery, sunshine and beaches, and new places.

‘China’s gone from being a market barely in our top 10 to number four and rising, and there’s more capacity coming our way in terms of airlines putting more flights into Australia in the future. It is currently worth $2.3 billion dollars a year and it’s estimated that will double over the next six to eight years,’ said Tourism Australia boss Andrew McEvoy.

Tourism Australia will launch their new There’s nothing like Australia campaign in China next month, and early testing of the campaign suggests that it is resonating strongly with Chinese travellers.

Another survey commissioned by the SUCCESS Foundation, EMR International and the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada also found that Australia is the top destination for Chinese travellers and expats. Singapore took second place and Canada third. In fourth place was Japan, then the United States, South Korea and New Zealand.

Canada only recently received its ADS status and is already attracting a large number of Chinese. Canada and China are celebrating 40 years of mutual diplomatic relations between both the countries and visitor numbers are expected to soar.

The survey states that Canada is applauded as one of the most relaxed places in the world with amazing and beautiful scenery along with fresh air and other options.

In the past, countries that receive ADS designation experience a 40% jump in Chinese visitors the first year, increasing to more than 50% after two years. According to Statistics Canada, some 41,098 Chinese tourists have come to Canada so far this year.

‘Chinese travelers represent a massive untapped opportunity for the Canadian tourism industry. The research findings suggest that Canada is well positioned to tap into this large and growing market,’ said Yuen Pau Woo, president and chief executive officer of the APF.

In 2009, China outbound tourism reached 47,669,999 person/times, an increase of 4% over 2008. Some 89% of the tourists were driven by private, leisure purposes. Chinese tourism experienced a trade deficit for the first time in 30 years. Outbound tourism is expected to grow by another 11% to 54 million in 2010.

The survey interviewed 1,080 people by telephone in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou with 360 samples in each city. The study was conducted to find out Chinese customers’ most preferred country to travel, to immigrate, to study abroad, and to invest.