The region’s foremost experts in tourism will converge at the Marriott hotel in Surfers Paradise this week for the third annual East-West Dialogue on Tourism and the Chinese Dream conference.

Spearheaded by the Griffith Institute for Tourism (GIFT) and Griffith Tourism Confucius Institute (TCI), the three-day event willbe held from Thursday 23 November through Saturday 25 November, and explore a diversity of issues facing the contemporary Asia-Pacific tourism market, unified under the need to address the topic of managing tourism in a way that supports sustainable growth.

The conference will feature opening speeches on the Friday from Tourism Australia chairman and Mantra Group chief executive Bob East, and Griffith University Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor AC, with an official welcome from Professor Bin Dai, the CEO of the China Tourism Academy, and a dinner keynote from former Tourism Australia and Tourism Queensland chair Don Morris AO.

Also on the keynote speakers bill are an array of international industry leaders including International Academy for the Study of Tourism fellow Professor Jigang Bao, senior marketing professional Vanessa Brennan (PwC Australia), New Zealand-based environmental scientist Professor Ken Hugheyand University of South Australia Professor of Tourism Marianna Sigala, among others.

The core focus at this year’s Tourism and the Chinese Dream summit is particularly timely, not only because 2017 has been declared as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, but also due to its significance as the China-Australia Year of Tourism, which celebrates the two countries’ close bilateral relationship.

The Gold Coast is an ideal location in which to canvass such ideas, Professor Becken said. As the recipient of nearly half a million visitors from China each year, the city is regarded as the country’s favourite Australian port of call, and was the only Western location to make the global top ten list of preferred Chinese tourism destinations in a recent survey by travel services provider Ctrip.

Professor Susanne Becken

However, the academic scope of the Dialogue goes well beyond just its eponymous nations.

“Tourism is growing at an incredible rate,” conference co-convenor and GIFT DirectorProfessor Susanne Becken said.”Chinese visitors to Australia have grown a lot, so in some ways it’s a great case study, but there will be participants from New Zealand and from Europe and North America as it’s happening everywhere in the world.”

“How do you manage all of that growth in a sustainable way? That’s our overarching theme: How can we harness this opportunity sustainably and responsibly, and what do governments need to do, what do businesses need to do, how does technology play into that?”

In addition to its array of speeches, the conference will include a series of panel discussions examining the plethora of opportunities and challenges facing contemporary tourism, such as how best to attract visitors through destination marketing, managing dispersal to encourage sustainable industry and environmental outcomes, the technological trends, risks and insights changing the face of international tourism, industry impact on community well-being, and far-reaching topics such as policy, trade and geopolitics.

The full Tourism and the Chinese Dream program and speakers list are available at its website.