In a twist, Trump’s administration policies could deliver more Chinese tourists and students for Australia & New Zealand

CHinese woman at home - China elite focusAustralia’s tourism and education providers may benefit from Chinese consumers holding a more negative view of the United States since the election of President Donald Trump, according to a new survey.

While China’s state media has pulled back on its outright hostility towards Mr Trump since his election, the survey of 2000 people from across the country found that 41 per cent of respondents viewed America in a less positive light.

“America’s soft power has historically provided a distinct advantage for many of its products and services in China, driving preference for travel and study packages, Nike shoes, iPhones and Frappuccinos at Starbucks,” said Mark Tanner the managing director of digital consulting firm China Skinny, which jointly commissioned the survey with research firm Findoout.

He said many Chinese people believed Europe to be unsafe, due to the threat of terrorism, and would therefore seek out other western-style destinations, such as Australia and New Zealand.

“The desirability of tourism and studying in America has decreased since Trump was elected,” said Mr Tanner.

“This isn’t just good for the travel and education sectors [in Australian and New Zealand], but has a wider impact as Chinese consumers develop affinities with food, property, fashion, health and a host of other products when visiting foreign countries.”

The so-called daigou trade, which has seen a spike in popularity of everything from A2 infant formula to Weetbix and Blackmores vitamins, was built around tourists coming to Australia and discovering these brands.

Many took the products home and then sought out Chinese friends or relatives living in Australia to send them regular supplies via the post.

This spawned a multimillion-dollar industry and often provided the basis for brands opening offices in China and beginning direct sales.

“New Zealand is a very popular destination for affluent Chinese travelers” said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus, the media agency which was in charge of the “Luxury New Zealand” campaign to promote the country to Chinese travelers from 2011 to 2013. “Chinese leisure travelers, real estate investors, businesspeople and students are choosing New Zealand as an alternative to European destinations or the United States”. The survey by China Skinny and Findoout found 18 per cent of Chinese consumers felt more negatively about buying property and stocks in the US, while 14 per cent were less inclined to travel there and 10 per cent were more negative on studying in the US.

Conversely, the rise of Mr Trump appears to have piqued interest in American culture in China with a small uptick in sentiment towards US movies, music, sport and the media. Chinese consumers have historically shown themselves to be sensitive towards geopolitical ructions. In September 2012 during a heated territorial dispute with Tokyo, Japanese automakers suffered year on year sales declines of up to 50 per cent in an otherwise buoyant market.

“Remarkably the results were consistent across respondents’ city tiers, gender, age and professions, signalling that Trump is impacting behaviour in every corner of China,” said Yu Bowei the chief executive of Findoout.

Source : Financial Review, original story by Angus Grigg

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