The Gold Coast was the only Australian and the only Western destination to make the global top ten when presented by Ctrip, China's leading online travel agent, at a gala ceremony held in Shanghai.
The award results were generated based on more than 50 million user comments, as well as online votes by over 3.6 million Chinese travellers.
Gold Coast Tourism's Chairman Paul Donovan said the recognition was testament to the years of strategic engagement with Chinese stakeholders by Gold Coast Tourism staff responsible for developing the China market.
“Together with industry and our destination stakeholders, we have invested a great deal of time and money in this market because we recognise the strong and increasing affection that Chinese travellers have for the Gold Coast's coastal city lifestyle,” said Mr Donovan.
“This is the biggest and most significant tourism industry survey in China and it is satisfying to see that the work undertaken by our China-based team has been so effective. Chinese visitors know the Gold Coast has it all and they are strongly attracted to our pristine natural assets such as our Hinterland and our beaches, our big blue skies, exceptional food, wine and shopping offerings.
“However, without the right strategy you will always finish mid-field - to rank well ahead of major global cities like Paris and Sydney is remarkable. It is further proof we have matured significantly as a destination - which is reflected in the launch of our new Marketing Strategy and Brand last week”.
The Ctrip top ten were:
- Gold Coast
- Chiang Mai
The Gold Coast attracts more than 27% of Australia's Chinese visitors, increasing by 33% in FY16.
Independent of the survey, Ctrip also nominated the Gold Coast as one of the ten most preferred destinations for the FIT (Free and Independent Traveller).
“The Chinese FIT sector prefers the Gold Coast because these travellers are able to get a sense of community and integrate into our lifestyle during their stays. We provide the ultimate experience because we welcome the modern global traveller,” he said.
City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said he wasn't surprised by the remarkable figures coming out of China.
“We have worked heavily to promote the idea that the Gold Coast is just 'one sleep' from mainland China, as far as direct flights go,” said Mayor Tate.
"The work done via our Mayoral missions to China and the UAE is paying dividends, backed by exceptional work led by Gold Coast Airport and Gold Coast Tourism."
Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones welcomed the news that the Gold Coast had topped the list of Chinese travellers' favourite destinations.
“It's no wonder the Gold Coast has been rated as the favourite destination among Chinese travellers, with our relaxed lifestyle, iconic beaches, warm weather and open skies luring around 295,000 visitors to the Coast from China last year,” Ms Jones said.
“I'm so pleased our Chinese friends now know what we've always known – that Queensland is by far the best tourism destination in Australia.
“Last year we saw Chinese visitor numbers surpass the number of New Zealand tourists visiting Queensland, making China our largest international market for the first time ever.
“In total we welcomed 485,000 visitors from China to Queensland in 2016, which was up more than 33% on the previous year.
“This was a real turning point for us because it reaffirmed that the future of our tourism industry is absolutely linked to the growing Chinese market.
“This shows that our Government's investment in growing the Chinese market is paying off and is the right thing to do because it's supporting jobs and growing our economy.”
Ms Jones said the Gold Coast recorded a 16% increase in international visitors in the year ending September 2016, which was a record high.
“We're seeing really strong growth in a number of Asian markets including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, with visitor expenditure on the Gold Coast increasing to a $1.3 billion,” she said.