Premier Mark McGowan is turning to Chinese social media, such as WeChat and Baidu, as part of a comprehensive new digital strategy to promote Western Australian as a study destination in China.
The campaign includes a China-hosted website, www.westernaustralia.cn, and utilises WeChat, Baidu and Youku to reach potential students.
Potential students will not only be given an insight into life at Perth universities, but also of the city as a lifestyle destination for themselves and their parents.
WA’s government office in Shanghai will become a support hub for the state’s universities and pathway providers, Mr McGowan said.
“The central message of the campaign is one that I know to be true - that Western Australia is a wonderful place to work and study,” the premier said in a statement.
“Attracting more international students to our state will grow this important industry and create jobs in Western Australia.”
Education Minister Sue Ellery said the digital platform was an important step forward to increase the state’s share of Chinese students.
Ms Ellery said students from mainland China and Hong Kong made up the largest group of international enrolments in WA.
The new platform is the latest effort by the state government to leverage the international education sector to diversify WA’s economy.
Research by StudyPerth indicates the sector is worth $1.55 billion to the state each year, while every five international students that enrol in WA creates at least one job.
Data from Tourism Research Australia shows international students spend a considerable amount more than holiday visitors, at $13,606 per person compared to $1,694.
Tourism Research Australia also said one in seven international visitors to WA comes from China, with 58 per cent of those visitor nights education related.
Mr McGowan will fly to Japan with Tourism Minister Paul Papalia this evening.
While in China, the premier announced a new deal with one of the world’s largest travel websites, Ctrip, paving the way for regular campaigns to promote WA as a tourism destination.
A campaign worth $700,000 will be launched in December.
Mr McGowan also met with representatives from the world’s biggest e-commerce group, Alibaba.com, on the China trip.
Alibaba, alongside its exceedingly popular shopping portals, operates Fliggy, a travel website with around 250 million users.
Discussions to secure more direct flights from China to Perth are also ongoing, with China Eastern Airlines in the government’s sights.
For more analysis on WA’s China tourism strategy, click here to read this special report from the November print edition of Australia China Business Review.