Chinese tourists favouring Australia

After some collection problems earlier in the year, the monthly overseas and arrivals data is back in order and showing some new emerging tourism trends.

The monthly overseas arrivals and departures data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is a treasure trove of insight into who is travelling to Australia.

Over the 12 months to March 2015, there were 7,032,100 short-term arrivals to Australia.

Short-term visitor arrivals have increased by 8.0% over the past year

While short-term arrivals are increasing, short-term departures (i.e overseas holidays, business trips etc) are much greater than arrivals at 9,218,900 over the past year.

The rate of growth in overseas departures is much slower than growth in arrivals at 4.5% over the past year.

Annual short-term arrivals and departures to Australia

Interestingly, over the past 12 months there were 1.31 short-term overseas departures for every short-term arrival.

In a positive sign for domestic tourism, this ratio was at its lowest level since August 2011.

Having a look at who is arriving to Australia from overseas, the largest sources are New Zealand, China, UK, Singapore and USA.

These five countries accounted for 53.3% of all short-term arrivals in the country.

The second chart clearly highlights the rising prominence of the Chinese holiday-maker.

Conversely, the number of arrivals from the UK has tapered off with China now the second largest source of arrivals to Australia.

Current top 6 countries for short-term arrivals to Australia, no of annual arrivals over time

If we extend the data to the top 10 which also includes, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, India and Hong Kong, these 10 countries accounted for 71.6% of all arrivals to Australia.

Top 10 countries for short-term arrivals to Australia, 12 months to Mar-15

20 years ago the short-term arrivals data was quite different

Travel was more expensive at that time and the make-up of the top 10 was quite different.

Furthermore, the top 5 countries accounted for a higher 59.4% of all short-term arrivals and the top 10 accounted for 77.5% of all arrivals.

Top 10 countries for short-term arrivals to Australia, 12 months to Mar-95

China is currently the 2nd largest source of short-term arrivals, 20 years ago it ranked 19th at just 0.9% of all arrivals.

Malaysia is now the 7th largest source of arrivals and was 11th 2 decades ago and India is currently 8th and was 34th 20 years ago.

Conversely, 20 years ago Taiwan was the 6th largest source of arrivals compared to being 14th today.

Germany was the 8th largest source of arrivals in 1995 compared to being 11th today and Indonesia was 9th 20 years ago compared to 12th today.

Over the coming years the markets which are likely to rise in prominence from a tourism perspective are largely other countries in Asia.

Over the past year the top 5 countries for growth in arrivals have been: India (24.6%), Sri Lanka (21.4%), Brazil (20.9%), China (19.1%) and Spain (18.8%).

The data also suggests that Chinese tourism to Australia is likely to continue to grow.

With a lower Australian dollar tourism authorities will be hoping to attract even more tourists to the country over the coming year.

Furthermore, they will also be hoping that more Australians decide to holiday domestically which would provide a further boost to the tourism sector.

Want more of this type of information?

Cameron Kusher


Cameron Kusher is Corelogic RP Data’s senior research analyst. Cameron has a thorough understanding of the fundamentals such as demographics, trends & economics. Visit

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