Inbound tourism on the rise

International tourism to Australia continues to climb, with an increase of 11% to a record 7.6 million visitors in 2016, according to the latest International Visitor Survey issued by Research Australia.

Seventeen of Australia’s 20 key markets showed record arrivals for the year, including New Zealand, USA, Canada, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland, France and Italy. Asia was again a key source of growth, with all top ten Asian countries recording double digit increases in visitor numbers.

“These figures tell a strong story,” said Margy Osmond, chief executive officer of the Tourism & Transport Forum. “China will soon be our biggest single market, but our future will be driven by the whole of Asia.”

International visitor spending also set a new high, amounting to $39.1 billion for the year, up 7% overall. The biggest spenders were those from China, the UK, USA, NZ and Japan, which combined accounted for 54% of total spending last year.

The managing director of the Australian Tourism Export Council, Peter Shelley, said while traditional inbound tourism remained strong, the country was seeing a broader engagement with newer markets like Malaysia, India and Korea which were showing notable growth.

“Globally there is an increasing appetite for travel and a growing number of people who can now afford to explore the world, particularly from newly industrialised countries which are attracted to Australia as a travel destination,” said Shelley.

Visitors are also increasingly using Uber and Airbnb when visiting Australia. Visitors using Uber were up 14% with the biggest demand from the UK, USA, Europe and Canada.

The most common website used to book private accommodation was Airbnb, with 426,000 visitors booking through the site. Other common websites used to make bookings were Stayz (12,000), Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO) (12,000) and Couchsurfing (10,000).

All Australian states & territories recorded visitation growth during 2016 except the NT, while the total number of nights visitors stayed in the country was up 2% to 253 million.