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Australia doesn't need Chinese tourists to rebound out of Covid because others will pick up slack

Australia's crippled travel sector doesn't need Chinese tourists to recover from the Covid pandemic, the nation's tourism minster has declared.

Dan Tehan on Wednesday told the CAPA Centre for Aviation conference in Sydney that things were already looking up for the aviation and tourism industries, despite the huge loss of Chinese visitors during the coronavirus crisis.

He said soaring travel demand from other parts of the world would see the tourism industry thrive in the new year as international and state borders unwind restrictions.

'Australia's star had shone bright throughout the pandemic as far as the rest of the world was concerned,' Mr Tehan said.

'People want to come to Australia, and that is the message I've got very, very clearly, whether it be North America, Europe, [or] Asia.' 

Australia's decimated travel sector doesn't need Chinese tourists to recover from the Covid pandemic, the nation's tourism minster has declared

Mr Tehan also said Australians were continuing to holiday at home and spending more while doing so.

Only Singaporeans are allowed into Australia as tourists, but that will soon be expanded to other parts of the world, starting with Japan and South Korea.

'My hope is Europe, North America and the Pacific will follow... and if we can continue to open up safely there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to bring those countries on board sooner rather than later,' he said.  

Domestically, flights to Queensland are the most searched for, with borders due to open to NSW and Victoria on Monday. 

Mr Tehan desperately wants all the domestic borders to open. 'We obviously want to see Australia become whole again, and our hope is the West Australian state border will open sooner rather than later,' he said.

'If we can get Australia whole again it will help boost further international tourism coming back to this country. 

'One of the things that is little known is that international tourists don't come to visit one state, they want to travel to at least two, three or four states.'

Mr Tehan said 'People want to come to Australia, and that is the message I've got very, very clearly, whether it be North America, Europe, Asia.' Pictured: French tourists on Bondi Beach

Before the pandemic, China was Australia's biggest source of international visitors, but the country is taking a zero-risk approach to make sure its people don't go abroad and bring Covid back with them before the Beijing Winter Olympics, which starts on February 4.

The situation has been made worse by the bitter trade war between Canberra and Beijing that shows no signs of abating.

As part of this, numerous Communist Party politicians and mouthpieces threatened to discourage Chinese tourists and students from coming to Australia.

In the latest spat, Australia announced a diplomatic, but not sporting, boycott of the Winter Olympics. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said China's 'human rights abuses' in the far-western province of Xinjiang, where it has forcibly moved Muslim Uighurs into brutal and deadly 're-education' camps, was one of the reasons for the boycott. 

He also highlighted Beijing's wave of trade strikes against Australia and its refusal to return phone calls from Australian ministers.  

Before the pandemic, China was Australia's biggest source of international visitors, now tourism has ground to a halt. Pictured: Scott Morrison (left), Xi Jinping (right)

'We have been very pleased and very happy to talk to the Chinese government about these issues,' Mr Morrison said.

'But the Chinese government has consistently not accepted those opportunities for us to meet about these issues. 

'So it is not surprising, therefore, that Australian government officials would not be going to China for those games.' 

Liberal MP Ted O'Brien, who spent a decade living and working in Taiwan and China, said the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics is 'consistent with our values'.

'I don't think there was any other choice,' he said. 'It is a powerful, albeit very targeted, message to Communist China, and any overreaction on their part will send an equally powerful message that they simply don't get it.'

Protesters hold up placards and banners as they attend a demonstration in Sydney to call on the Australian government to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics over China's human rights record

Tourism minister Dan Tehan says Chinese tourism to Australia is unlikely to recover in the short term, but that there is strong interest from other countries

Mr O'Brien said China had changed since it hosted the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing: 'The issue is not China's rise, but rather China's behaviour'.

'We cannot turn a blind eye to the reports coming out or China about the treatment of the Uighur people in Xinjiang,' he said.

Australia's best-known Winter Olympian, gold medal wining speed skater Steven Bradbury, criticised China's use of Uighurs as 'human slaves' and warned 'if we don't stand up to China they will take over the world'. 

'You can't take away an athlete's dreams,' he told The Australian. 

'But if China isn't going to act in a way so that we can all live together on planet Earth and if China is going to continue to put tariffs on our products and try to hamstring us, then we need to act.

'It has become glaringly obvious that China's mission is to take over the world, and more and more people are starting to understand that.'