Kevin Rudd said today that China's emerging middle class wants to be able to check on their home and business while travelling in Australia.
"The expectation of high-speed broadband being available for everything is absolutely fundamental," Rudd told a forum of tourism businesses in Hobart.
"They won't feel comfortable being isolated from news back home, news concerning their business or the intrinsics of their business operation."
Rudd took a swipe at the Coalition broadband policy released last week, which doesn't provide a fibre optic connection to most premises.
"There's no ifs, no buts, no Malcolm Turnbulls about what sort of broadband you want," he said.
"Our high-income tourists from China and elsewhere will simply have this as an elementary expectation, and frankly, it's one of the reasons why we're doing it."
The Mandarin-speaking former foreign minister was speaking about Tasmania's ability to attract a share of Chinese tourism's $102 billion annual spend worldwide.
He said China's 573,000 tourists last year spent $6,422 per visit to Australia, more than visitors from any other country, and that the market would be worth $7.4 billion by 2020.
Rudd said that Tasmania's "clean, green, and blue" reputation appealed to tourists from the world's largest country.
But he warned that Australia needed more Chinese-language speakers and a greater understanding of Chinese culture.
"If you think mum's home-baked meat pie is the way through, think again," he said.