Australia welcomed a record 8 million-plus international arrivals in the year ending September 2016.
Almost half of those – 3.7 million visitors – came for a holiday.
While it may look as though these visitors are just snapping penguins and taking endless selfies with koalas and the Sydney Opera House, they’re providing a significant bump to the economy with travel-related spending up 25 per cent to a record $16.5 billion this year.
China has emerged as a key player, set to overtake our New Zealand neighbours as the main source of international arrivals.
More than 1.1 million Chinese arrived in Australia this year, with the number of holiday arrivals jumping 35 per cent to 627,000.
An indication of that growing traffic from China is the expansion of China Southern Airlines’ flights between the two countries.
The airline has increased capacity to Australia by 35 per cent in the past year and there are 56 weekly flights between Guangzhou and Australia’s capital cities as well as direct flights between Shenzhen and Sydney.
Shopping plays a significant big part in the Asian travel experience and, per head, the Chinese spent more than any other market, outlaying a total $3.2 billion in the year surveyed.
The number of Japanese and Koreans holidaying here over the past year also increased (up 37 per cent to 255,000 and up 49 per cent to 163,000 respectively). A little (or a lot of) retail therapy is also on their agenda.
Where is everyone going?
Most international visitors are arriving (and spending) in NSW, with the number of international visitors arriving in Sydney in a single year nearing Sydney’s permanent population.
In Queensland, a record 147,000 international travellers visited Noosa, and presumably all managed to get in a coffee on Hastings Street.
In Victoria, Bendigo experienced a boom. The city had a 45 per cent increase in searches on TripAdvisor and was also the most popular destination for domestic travel searches.
Travel and the Trump effect
While visitors from the United States are currently Australia’s second largest holiday market, up 38 per cent this year with 315,000 visitors, that number may rise again.
According to TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, the US tops the list of countries showing interest in visiting Australia as a travel destination. Call it the Trump effect perhaps.
Interestingly, second on the list is the UK. Maybe the Brexit effect?
Hola! The Spanish are coming
The country with the most increased interest in visiting Australia is Spain.
Based on TripAdvisor’s research, Spain grew its total share of search traffic by 112 per cent in the past year.
Also in the top five inbound countries based on increased search traffic for Australian destinations are Argentina and The Netherlands.