Data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed that Chinese visitors accounted for 1.43 million trips to Australia last year — a 6 per cent rise on the number recorded in 2017.
Traditional leader New Zealand was knocked into second place, with Australia welcoming 1.38 million visits from our neighbours across the ditch.
The Kiwis had accounted for the highest number of visitors to Australia since 1999, having taken over from Japan.
ABS director of migration statistics Myles Burleigh said that the figures demonstrate the huge surge in the number of Chinese visitors to our shores in recent years.
“In 2008, there were 353,000 visitors from China, so the number has more than tripled in the last 10 years,” Mr Burleigh said.
“Ten years before that, in 1998, there were only 77,000 visits by people from China.”
After China and New Zealand, the next highest number of visitors to Australia came from the US, UK and Japan, in that order. The total number of short-term visitors increased by 3.3 per cent year-on-year.
The data also looked at outbound journeys by Australians visiting other countries. New Zealand remains the most visited country for outgoing Australians, followed by Indonesia.
According to the ABS, there were a total of 42.1 million movements across Australian borders in 2018. The busiest day of all was Saturday, 22 December, while the quietest day was Tuesday, 22 May.