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In the midst of trade wars and Australia's awkward position between China and America an interesting fact has emerged, China is now the top origin of tourists to Australia. The Chinese takeover neighbour New Zealand as the top source country.

Australia China US Tourists

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said that for the 12 months to February overall visitor numbers hit a record high 1.39 million Chinese visited Australia during the period, up 13.2 percent on the year prior and for the first time exceeding travelers from neighboring New Zealand, ABS data showed. There were 1.36 million visitors from New Zealand in the period.

Overall tourist arrivals rose to a record high of 8.9 million during the year to February, while tourism-related spending in the year to December reached a record A$41.3 billion (US$32 billion).

Tourism: Tourist arrivals fell by 1.2 per cent in February after rising by 2.5 per cent to a record-high 760,300 in January. Arrivals increased by 4.8 per cent in trend terms over the year to February. Departures fell by 2.3 per cent in February after increasing by 2.3 per cent in January. Departures rose by 1.1 per cent in trend terms on a year ago. 

Australia India Tourists

Record tourists: A record 1,398,800 Chinese tourists travelled to Australia over the year to February, up by 12.5 per cent over the year. Also, a record-high 802,200 visitors from the US travelled to Australia, up by 10 per cent over the year to February. And a record-breaking 311,500 Indian tourists travelled to Australia over the year to February, up by 6.7 per cent

Chinese Visitors Add Value

Chinese visitors tend to stay longer and spend more than visitors from other countries. China has been Australia’s most valuable inbound tourism market since 2011.

Over the past five years, Chinese visitor numbers have doubled, driving tourism earnings and spurring a boom in hotel development and record profits for airlines and travel agents.

“The Chinese traveler is evolving and the growing middle class in China are chasing new experiences,”
said Hianyang Chan, an industry analyst at research firm Euromonitor International. 

The affect is seen throughout the nation, forexample Australia’s largest airline, Qantas, posted a record half-year profit in February Qantas' main rival, Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd also reported its best result in a decade.

Travel agencies Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd and Webjet Ltd shares are trading within range of record highs. The lower Australian dollar and the tourism and new commodities boom has also seen overseas investors flocking to invest in Australia.

One example is the $920 million buyout of resort operator Mantra Group by the French hotel company Accor SA lin 2017 to formg Australia’s biggest hotel group.

Tourism and Transport Australia Outlook

A new report from the Tourism and Transport Forum Australia (TFF) found visits by tourists are expected to grow by 31 per cent from 2016 to 2026 to 385 million annual visits.

The TFF says $97.6 billion worth of economic activity is currently generated by the tourism industry, underlying its importance to Australia. 

Around 922,100 jobs are supported by Australia’s tourism industry, having a multiplier effect across the economy.

Tourism generates $61 billion for transport-related industries, like airlines, rental cars and coaches. Tourism spending is expected to grow by 57 per cent to $204 billion between 2016 and 2026. 

Source: ABS, TTF, Euromonitor, CommSec

From a sunburnt country

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