China has driven a record result for international visitors to Australia, with the latest data showing Chinese tourists were responsible for more than half of the total growth in visitor spending in the 12 months to the end of March.
Tourism Research Australia’s latest international visitors survey showed 8.3 million people visited Australia in the year to March 31, an 8 per cent increase on the previous 12 months.
Total visitor spending was up 6 per cent, or $2.5 billion, to reach $42.3 billion.
Chinese tourists made up the biggest share of spending growth, funnelling an additional $1.3 billion into the Australian economy in the period to reach a total of $10.9 billion.
At the same time, visitor spending from all other countries grew by $1.2 billion.
Chinese visitor spending was nearly three times that of tourists from the United States, who collectively spent $3.7 billion in Australia.
On average, Chinese visitors spent $8,472 while visiting Australia, while China also maintained its position as the leading country for Australian visitation, with the 1.29 billion tourists from China for the 12 months eclipsing the 1.24 billion visitors from New Zealand.
Chinese visitor numbers were up by 13 per cent, TRA said, while the number of nights they stayed grew by 8 per cent.
The rising Chinese tourist data follows Tourism Australia announcing this week that it had appointed experienced tourism executive Mandy Wu to kick off a new direction of China marketing.
Ms Wu, who will begin in her new role as country manager for China in March, joins Tourism Australia from Cathay Pacific.
Tourism Australia north Asia regional general manager, Andrew Hogg, said Ms Wu’s experience in China and the broader region were attractive attributes.
“China is a critical market for Australian tourism and one where effective stakeholder management is key,” Mr Hogg said.
“Mandy has deep knowledge and understanding of the region, an extensive network of contacts and a strong aviation background, which are ideally suited to the role.”
On a state by state basis, New South Wales led Australia in the total numbers of visitors, with 4.4 million tourists, however, Tasmania was the leader in visitor growth, with numbers up 20 per cent to 300,400.
Spending by visitors also rose by the largest amount in Tasmania, rising 32 per cent to 559 million, followed by NSW with 16 per cent growth.
Western Australia and the Northern Territory were the only locations that recorded a reduction in visitor spending, falling by 8 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively.