International visitors help Aus hit the mark

International visitors help Aus hit the mark

A look back over previous decades gives an insight into the changing composition of Australia’s international visitors.

Tourism Research Australia (TRA), Australia’s leading provider of tourism intelligence located within Austrade, has reported tourism now directly contributes A$47.5 billion to Australia’s GDP, employs 580,800 Australians and accounts for 9.6% of Australia’s exports.

Figures released last week showed more than eight million international visitors for the first time ever visited Australia – an increase of 11% over the previous year.

This milestone was achieved just 18 months after visitor numbers exceeded seven million annually. This is substantially faster than the ascent from six to seven million visitors, which took place almost two and a half years.

Janice Wykes, TRA Assistant General Manager, said a lot has changed in the last 50 years.

“Australia’s tourism industry is growing three times as fast as the rest of the economy, driven by record levels of international visitors choosing Australia as their holiday destination,” Wykes said.

It comes as no surprise, however, that much of the changing demographic of international visitors to Australia can be attributed to emerging countries in Asia, like China. This is in contrast to previous decades where the majority of tourist arrivals came from the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan, Canada and Europe. But, as Wykes suggests, fast-forward 50 years and it is a completely different picture.

“Much of the growth in international visitors has come from emerging countries in Asia such as China and the recovery of the Japanese and South Korean markets, driven by increasing household income and a growing middle class,” Wykes said.

China is now the second largest source of international visitors, after New Zealand, with over one million visitors since 2015. Other factors such as changes to the aviation industry, including increased capacity, have also contributed to the growth of the industry.

Indeed, the increased attractiveness of Australia as a tourist destination can be attributed to significant developments to the aviation industry over the last 50 years. In 1966, a flight to Sydney from London took between 29-32 hours and made five to six stops. In 2016, a flight to Sydney from London takes 21 hours with one stop.

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