Tourism to Australia is roaring ahead, with the latest International Visitor Survey showing a record AUD 38.8 billion spend (up 11%) over the 12 months to September – yet a suggestion is about that the record result is just scratching the surface.
International visitors to Australia spent a record AUD 38.8 billion in the year ending September 2016, 11% or AUD 4 billion more than the previous year. Four markets – China (35%), USA (16%), Korea (10%) and Japan (7%) – contributed a collective 68% of the growth.
The number of visitors aged 15 years and over reached 7.4 million, increasing by 766,000 (11%), while nights grew 4% to 251 million.
Strong growth was reported across most of Australia’s major markets. Fifteen of 20 markets had record visitor numbers during the year including New Zealand, China, the US, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Germany, Scandinavia and Switzerland, France, Canada and Thailand. Furthermore, China, the US, Korea and Japan were major contributors to the increase in spend for the year, contributing an extra 2.7 billion over the year (or 68% of the total increase).
The Chinese market continues to notch up record-breaking growth with 1.1 million Chinese tourists spending AUD 9.1 billion (up 18%) and staying a collective 43.2 million nights (up 10%).
Travel for the purpose of visiting friends and relatives (VFR) was flat – down 1% to 1.9 million visitors, while nights were down 2% to 54.5 million, and spend remained at AUD 5.8 billion. Arrivals for business were steady at 808,000, while employment fell 16% to 272,000.
The growth in visitors arriving for holiday was reflected in strong increases in nights in hotels, motels and resorts, increasing 14% to 28.7 million. Nights in guesthouses, and bed-and-breakfast establishments grew 11% to 1.2 million.
When measured in types of travellers, growth was highest for family groups (parents and children travelling together) at 19% to 942,000 visitors. Adult couples and friends and relatives travelling together both increased 17% to reach 1.6 million and 822,000 respectively. Those travelling alone increased 7% to 3.8 million.
Spend on package tours grew 24% to 4.6 billion and shopping grew 7% to 3.8 billion.
The Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) welcomed the figures but said it was only scratching the surface of the visitor economy’s full potential to deliver jobs and economic growth for Australia.
“I can’t think of a better early Christmas present that some fantastic growth numbers for the visitor economy and with the right partnership between government and industry this should only be the beginning,” said TTF chief executive Margy Osmond.
“Tourism is a super growth sector for the Australian economy, but we do need a positive economic strategy for the sector that seizes the massive growth opportunities in the Asia-Pacific, while working to meet the challenges of the supporting infrastructure and workforce skills we need to take full advantage of it.”
Written by Peter Needham