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Fears China could ban citizens from holidaying in Australia grow

Australia’s tourism industry is being urged to diversify and stop relying on the Chinese market, amid fears the Chinese government may curb travel to Australia.

Travel editor at The Age, Anthony Dennis, said there is a real risk the Chinese government could stop citizens from holidaying in Australia in response to the Australian government’s support for an independent probe into the origins of COVID-19.

It comes after China this week introduced an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley, and banned beef imports from four Australian abattoirs, following veiled threats from the Chinese ambassador to Australia.

“The Chinese ambassador to Australia … invoked tourism as one industry that the Chinese could target,” Mr Dennis said.

“Every Chinese tourist who leaves China for an overseas destination does so with the permission of the government. They control every aspect of society and the can switch travel off overnight,” he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“It’s not a reliable market. It’s a lucrative market but … the Chinese have demonstrated that they will manipulate trade relations to suit themselves according to whether they’ve been offended or not by the decision of a particular country.”

China has turned off travel as a political statement in the past.

In 2017, after South Korea deployed a US-made anti-missile system to protect itself from North Korea, China objected. When Seoul refused to back down on the use of the system, China dealt South Korea an economic blow by curbing travel to the country.

“It cost the Korean economy US$7 billion,”” Mr Dennis said.

“It’s really never recovered, the Chinese tourism market, to the same level.”

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