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International tourists spending record amounts

airport, traveller

Aussie businesses catering to international visitors are reaping record rewards, with both the number of inbound visitors and the amounts of money they spend here reaching new heights.

The latest International Visitor Survey by Austrade and Tourism Research Australia recorded a 3 per cent surge in the number of visitors from abroad aged 15 and over, hitting a new record of 8.6 million.

And the amount of money they spent in Australia surged even faster, up by 5 per cent in the year to June 2019 to a new record of $44.6 billion.

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Those visiting Australia for holidays increased their collective spend by 6 per cent to $16.9 billion, while spending by overseas students surged by 8 per cent to a new high $12.7 billion.

Interestingly, the figures show that despite spending more while on Australian shores, international visitors are actually spending less time here than they used to.

In the past six years, the average length of stay has fallen by six nights to 32 nights. However, the average spend per night here has soared by 26 per cent, from $129 to $163.

Where are visitors coming from?

While previous years have seen strong growth in the number of visitors to Australia coming from China, last financial year the number of Chinese visitors increased by only 1 per cent to 1.3 million, the statistics show. Although, thanks to strong interest in Australia’s education services, Chinese spending in Australia was up by 6 per cent for the year to $11.9 billion.

The relatively subdued growth rate in the number of Chinese visitors was offset by strong increases from other markets: visitors from Japan surged by 9 per cent to 445,000, and their collective spend in Australia soared by 16 per cent over the year to $2.0 billion.

American visitors also increased by 3 per cent to 764,000, with their total spend surging by 9 per cent to $4.0 billion.

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New Zealanders accounted for more modest growth rates, with visitor numbers up by 2 per cent to 1.3 million and spending up by 1 per cent to $2.6 billion.

The only one of the top five markets for international visitors to show declines over the past year was the UK, continuing previous falls.

The volume of British visitors slipped by 4 per cent to 674,000, and their spending in Australia fell by 3 per cent to $3.4 billion.

Where in Australia are international visitors going?

According to the figures, most states and territories saw rises in both the number of overseas visitors they attracted and the amount of money these visitors spent within their borders.

NSW took the lion’s share of international visitors, with 4.376 million arriving in the state — up by 1 per cent. They also spent $11.3 billion in NSW, far more than anywhere else in Australia.

Victoria ranked next, with 3.101 million visitors and an $8.6 billion spend, up by 4 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively.

Queensland was the only other state to see more than 1 million visitors in FY19. Its 2.757 million visitors was unchanged on the same volume the previous year, although spending soared by 6 per cent to $6.0 billion.

Meanwhile, the Northern Territory saw visitor numbers rise by 4 per cent to 294,000 and their spend surge by 9 per cent to $454 million.

Elsewhere across the country was less rosy.

WA saw a 3 per cent rise in visitor numbers, to 973,000, but spending growth didn’t move from the $2.2 billion seen in the previous year.

In SA, spending went backwards by 5 per cent to $1.1 billion, despite visitor numbers edging up by 1 per cent to 467,000.

Spending also fell in the ACT, down by 6 per cent to $605 million, despite a 7 per cent surge in the number of visitors (to 266,000).

Tasmania fared worst, with both visitor numbers (300,000) and spending ($528 million) going backwards, to the tune of 2 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively.

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016. 

The two-time Publish Awards finalist has an extensive journalistic career across business, property and finance, including a four-year stint in the UK. Email Adam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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