More Chinese people visiting Australia, latest official data shows

by Ray Clancy on May 19, 2017

in Australia Travel

More Chinese people are visiting Australia for a holiday or short term stay than ever before and they look set to overtake New Zealand as the nation’s biggest overseas visitor market by the end of the year.

But overall the number of short term visitors is slowing. The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that they increased by just 0.1% in March compared with the previous month.

(Maonakub/Bigstock.com)

However, at 712,800 numbers are still 6.5% higher than in March 2016 although a breakdown of the figures show that month on month the number of visitors from China was flat, while year on year they were up 7.9%.

Australia is also seeing a growth in visitors from other Asian countries. Indeed the year on year growth is led by visitors from India with a rise of 11.6% compared to March 2016, a rise of 9.5% in Japanese visitors and a 3.6% rise from Malaysia, but there was a 2.2% fall in the number from Singapore.

There was also a 10% year on year rise in visitors from Germany and an 8% rise in numbers from the United States. UK numbers were up by 4.9% and New Zealand up by 4%.

Margy Osmond, chief executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum, pointed out that there are early signs that the pace of growth in visitor numbers is starting to cool but she still believes that those from China are set to overtake New Zealanders as the biggest group by the end of the year.

‘The rise and rise of the Chinese visitor market continues to be one of Australian tourism’s great success stories,’ she said, adding that in the period to March 2017, Australia welcomed 1.3 million Chinese visitors, an increase of 12.3% on March 2016 and just 100,000 fewer than New Zealand.

There are concerns that tourism could be affected by a budget cut to Tourism Australia which will mean it receives $8.5 million less next year to spend on promoting Australia around the world.

Osmond explained that while international visitors are up, growth is at its slowest pace for a year although she is confident that numbers will increase in the coming months, although the budget cut is a blow.

‘This will inevitably have a negative impact on growth in international visitor arrivals in the year ahead. This decision is a serious blow to the sector and the almost one million Australians with a job that is linked to tourism,’ she added.

The budget cut was announced as new research shows that 94% of Australians believe that international tourism is good for the country and 83% are proud of how Australia is promoted overseas.

However, the research from Tourism Australia also found that 73% of Australians still underestimate the true value of the country’s tourism industry with only 8% correctly identifying the sector as the nation’s biggest export services earner.

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