In 2014, tourism accounted for about 3% of the Australian economy (source), about 1/3 of this or 1% of GDP was due to international visitors. That seems pretty small on the national scale, but for some areas it is a dominant component of the regional economy. This post reflects how big is tourism within Australia and summarises some key headline figures about how many visitors come to Australia, why they come, where they go and how long they stay. This analysis is based mostly on AusTrade data
How many international visitors are there?
In the year to March 2016 there were 7,074,000 international visitors over 15 years to Australia (17% of those from New Zealand, 14% from China). They stayed for a total of 248,457,000 nights, spending an average of $153/night for a total expenditure of around $38bn.
Figure 1: Where do international visitors come from?
Why do people visit Australia?
About half of our international visitors are here on holiday (47%), 26% visiting friends and relatives, 11% are here on business, 4% are employed in Australia and 6.7% are here to study. What is encouraging is that 62% of international visitors to Australia are return visitors, showing that as a destination, Australia leaves visitors wanting more.
The 6.7% visitors to Australia for study adds up to a pretty significant industry (that is 476,000 international students per year). If these students are paying around $AU20,000/y in tuition fees (source) then the international student industry is worth around $10 billion/y to our universities.
Figure 2: Why do people come to Australia?
Where do they go?
The capitals get the lions share of visitors (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane). However some of the regions do well at keeping their visitors for extended stays. Visitors to the Darling Downs (Southern Queensland) stay for an average of 35 nights, similarly those to the Mallee (North West Victoria) stay for 32 nights, New England (Northern NSW) for 29 nights and Bundaberg (Qld) for 29 nights. I’m guessing these long stays in regional centers reflect the presence of regional universities and backpacker fruit picking ‘experiences’ rather than major tourist sites.
Figure 3: Where do visitors go and how long do they stay?
How much do they spend?
The regional expenditure reflects the visitor numbers and nights with the major capitals dominating. Even though the total revenue for the regional areas is much lower than the capitals, there are far fewer competing places to stay and attractions to spend money on.
Figure 4: Regional expenditure by major region
What do they spend their money on?
The bulk of expenditure (29%) is on food, drink and accommodation, followed by airfares (21%) and education fees (12.5%). Visitors spend about 10% or $3.8bn shopping and 13% ($5.1bn) on tours.
Figure 5: What do international visitors spend their money on?
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