Record visitors to Australia

The ABS has been playing catch-up on its Overseas Arrivals and Departures stats, releasing three months worth of data almost in as many weeks.

The February figures revealed an enormous 602,800 short term arrivals into Australia in February, comfortably the greatest figure we have ever seen on this survey.

And note that February is the shortest month of the year at only 28 days, if I recall my childhood mnemonics correctly.

Also note that these are the seasonally adjusted figures – the “original” data revealed that there were more than 807,000 visitors to Australia in the month December alone!

Over the last 12 months we have seen some 6.95 million visitors to these shore – also a record – as the lower dollar drives the tourism sector into robust growth territory.

China drives short term arrivals

If you’ve been following this blog over the past year or so you’ll know I’ve been suggesting that the number of Chinese visitors into Australia must surely be growing exponentially (unless my eyes aren’t working properly).

The February data confirmed as much, with an extraordinary 86,600 Chinese visitors in only one month, smashing all previous monthly records by nearly 10,000.

Over the past year there have now been 873,500 Chinese short term visitors to Australia, an annualised figure which appears to be heading to above 1 million in due course.

At the current rate of progress Chinese short term arrivals will have overtaken Kiwis as the number one country within only a couple of years.

There were also a record 559,400 US visitors over the past year, the Americans very much enjoying the shift in foreign exchange rates no doubt.

Of the 7 million or so short term arrivals, 5.16 million came for holidays or to visit family – others came for business, conferences, employment, education or other pursuits.

Population growth to rebound

On a rolling annual basis net long term migration has declined from a recent peak of 411,160 in January 2013 to 304,690 in February 2015.

While this rolling annual downturn may have a little way to run yet, the most recent two months of data point to a very healthy rebound.

In the first two months of the year we have seen 156,610 permanent and long term arrivals but only 72,220 such departures, thereby implying an annual pace of net long term migration which is set to bounce very strongly.

Asian century for Oz

No chart better illustrates the accelerating changes in Australia’s demographics than the one below.

Only 650 Poms came to settle in Australia in February, way down from the heady monthly peak of 2,490 in October 2008, the currency having played a significant role here too.

On the other hand February saw 1,870 Indian settlers and some 1,910 Chinese.

Big, big numbers.

Finally, over the past year while the number of settlers from Oceania has declined to only 21,350 and Europeans to 15,190, Asian settlers have consolidated at a rolling annual figure of 71,500, accounting for by far and away the greatest share of immigration Down Under.


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Pete Wargent


Pete Wargent is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary and has a Financial Planning Diploma. He’s achieved financial freedom at the age of 33 - as detailed in his book ‘Get a Financial Grip – A Simple Plan for Financial Freedom’. Pete now manages his investment portfolio, travels and works as a consultant in the finance industry from time to time. Visit his blog

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