The Australian economy has been significantly bolstered by an influx of international visitors who in the last 12 months have spent a record $39.8 billion.
Tourism & Transport Forum Chief Executive, Margy Osmond, said the latest International Visitor Survey also shows more than 7.7 million visitors (up nine per cent) stayed a collective 262 million nights (up five per cent).
“As the national economy continues to transition from the end of the mining boom to a diversified services-based economy, there is no question that tourism is Australia’s next super-growth sector,” Ms Osmond said.
“These remarkable figures have been underpinned by the incredible growth across Asia, with double digit growth for visitor arrivals across eight of the top ten Asian markets (China, Japan, Malaysia, Korea, India, Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand).
“While the last quarter has seen a four per cent drop in Chinese holiday visitation, the Chinese market overall continues to break growth and spend records, with one in every six visitors now coming from China and $9.7 billion spent in the last year, up a staggering 396 per cent since March 2010.
“After recording modest growth in the last decade, there has been a surge in visitors from two of our traditional markets in the last 12 months, with 884,000 visitors from the United States (up 14 per cent) and 390,000 from Japan (up 18 per cent).
“The Federal Government’s compromise on the backpacker tax last year has also averted a potential collapse in the backpacker and working holiday maker market, with 645,000 backpackers visiting in the last 12 months (up eight per cent).”
Ms Osmond said the figures highlighted the need for state and federal governments to realise the full potential of the tourism sector and stop treating it as a cash cow.
“While these are great numbers we need to be thinking about the potential for them to be even better by supporting our tourism sector rather than jeopardising future growth by slugging visitors with increased charges, such as the recent visa increase,” Ms Osmond said.
“We simply cannot keep increasing the taxes and charges on traveling to Australia and believe that it will not have any impact on the number of visitors coming to our country. Every extra dollar on the cost of travel is a disincentive to visit Australia.”