The Inbound Opportunity

The movement of capital, people and resources from “inside this circle to outside it” is one of the most confronting and exciting opportunities, challenges and risks of the 21st century and will have an impact on every aspect of our lives.

In the long term, this movement creates unprecedented challenges for politicians, economists, historians and sociologists who will all have to grapple with the impact of a new aspirant middle class disrupting the old world order and exporting their cultures, wealth and ambition to other countries. We’re already seeing some early signs of what lies ahead.

In the short term, smart businesses and entrepreneurs with a will to adapt and prosper will find countless opportunities to benefit from this wave of cashed up consumers, aspirational families, hard-working millennials and savvy investors if they take the plunge and open their minds.

Here in Australia, this wave has already started. If you need any convincing of the short-term opportunity to build a business case to promote your capabilities, services or products to just one sub-segment of this massive group (ie the Chinese who already have an interest in Australia) you can get motivated by plugging the following numbers into your spreadsheet:


Locals (ie local Australians who identify as “Chinese”)
1,213,903 ie 5.6% of the population, mostly living in NSW and Victoria (source: 2016 ABS Census)

Migrants (ie Chinese people moving to Australia each year to take up residence)
28,000 per annum, mainly business and investment migrants, with high levels of education, skills, language and wealth (source: ABS)

Students (ie Chinese students who study in Australian universities)
165,000 per annum and contributing A$6 billion to the Australian economy each year (source: L.E.K. Chinese Student Survey)

Tourists (ie Chinese tourists who come to Australia each year for sight-seeing, leisure, shopping etc.)
1.4 million p.a. spending A$10.9 billion (source: Tourism Australia). This number is expected to grow to over 3m chinese tourists by 2026 (which I believe is an under-estimate!)

Investors Chinese investment into Australia was US$10.3 billion in 2017 which is close to the long-term average since 2011 (source: KPMG & USYD). This figure doesn’t include Chinese investment into residential real estate in Australia which is currently US$14.1 billion (source:

ABF media

All it requires is a bit of creative thinking about how you can delight and attract one or more of these groups by rolling out the metaphorical ‘welcome’ sign in their own language and adapting your offer to their unique circumstances and preferences.

Here are a few examples of some businesses who have already done this:

  • when driving down the Great Ocean Road outside Melbourne last week, my daughter was surprised by the number of small cafes and restaurants who had re-printed their menus in Mandarin
  • BridgeClimb in Sydney now delivers the whole climbing experience, from bookings to tour guides, in Mandarin. See
  • Teddington Legal, a small legal firm in Sydney with aspirations to appeal to Chinese clients for conveyancing, legal advice and business support, hired junior Chinese lawyers, chose a Chinese name (“Tan Ting”) and launched a Chinese version of their web site

Source: David Thomas


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