Cashed-Up Tourists Splurge $42b in Australia

A fictional Crocodile Dundee sequel has inspired more cashed-up tourists to explore Australia.

Bernard O’Riordan

Australian tourism is enjoying an unprecedented purple patch with a record number of visitors from China and the United States splashing the cash Down Under over the past year.

International visitors splurged a record A$42.3 billion on hotels, tours, food, transport and other goods and services in Australia in the year to March, according to an International Visitor Survey released today.

China remains Australia’s most-lucrative inbound tourism market with Chinese visitors spending a record A$10.9 billion, up 13 per cent on the previous year.

Australia is also flavour of the month in the United States, thanks to a mock Crocodile Dundee tourism campaign starring Hugh Jackman and Chris Hemsworth, which aired during this year’s Super Bowl.

Dundee campaign
Chris Hemsworth and Danny McBride in the mock Dundee tourism ad

American visitors spent around $3.8 billion in Australia in the year to March, up 4 per cent on the previous year. Australia’s peak tourism body, Tourism Australia, wants to increase that to more like $5.5 billion a year by 2020.

The latest research shows almost every Australian state and territory enjoyed growth in international visitor spending over the past year, with some recording double-digit percentage increases.

Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, remains the number one destination for international tourists with 4.1 million visitors.

The Harbour City also takes top billing for the most-visited landmarks with the Sydney Opera House attracting 3 million international visitors and the Sydney Harbour Bridge 2.7 million.

But the “Apple Isle” of Tasmania experienced incredible growth, with international visitor numbers up 91 per cent to 300,000 and international spending surging 107 per cent over the past five years.

Like with many other parts of the economy, China is now the undisputed growth engine for Australian tourism, out-pipping Australia’s closest neighbour New Zealand where growth was up just 1 per cent.

Screenshot at Jul 19 13-51-12

Chinese tourists now account for more than half of the total growth in spending by international visitors to Australia – out-shopping, outspending and out-eating every other nation. They are filling hotels, tour buses and cruise ships in staggering numbers.

With just five per cent of Chinese citizens holding passports, and the government issuing about 10 million new travel documents each year, it’s little wonder the Middle Kingdom is set to be Australia’s most important market for some time to come.

By 2021, Chinese tourists are tipped to spend US$429 billion abroad, according to Chinese broker CLSA, with Australia high on a list of “must-visit” destinations.

In terms of visitor numbers, a record 9.02 million people chose to visit Australia in the year to March, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Around 1.39 million visitors were from China, a 13.2 per cent increase on last year.

Screenshot at Jul 19 13-47-49


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