Australia's campaign to attract more tourists from China may be falling on deaf ears. The country has dropped to 17th on the list of most popular Chinese international tourism destinations, according to new data from daodao.com, TripAdvisor's official website in China.
The numbers suggest that Australia is being eclipsed in its efforts to lure Chinese tourists, despite its major marketing efforts.
Page views on the website suggested that as many as seven non-Asia destinations were preferred ahead of Australia by Chinese tourists in the 12 months from September 2013.
The United States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, the United Arab Emirates and Germany were in greater demand.
That news came as a surprise to Tourism Australia's Managing Director John O'Sullivan, who still believes Australia is at the forefront of Chinese travelers' minds.
"We know from comprehensive research we've carried out in China that Australia is No 1 on the long-haul travel wish list," O'Sullivan said on Thursday. "It offers the perfect combination of unsurpassed natural beauty and unique wildlife, as well as modern, contemporary cities offering great dining, shopping and entertainment."
But, O'Sullivan's comments are in direct contrast to the TripAdvisor studies, which showed that the US doubled Australia's intake of Chinese tourists in the past year.
The US attracted 1.8 million Chinese visitors since September 2013, compared to Australia's 790,000. And that gap is expected to grow as the United States and China announced a new extended visa agreement.