Aussies prepare for big tourist arrivals

Record 10 million visitors expected this year

CANBERRA — Australia is expected to welcome a mammoth 10 million overseas visitors to its shores this year — and a big chunk are coming from one country in particular.

Analysis of data on foreign tourism has pointed towards a record number of guests in 2019, which spells good news for the economy and job growth.

Bessie Hassan from comparison website said Australia is taking an ever-greater share of the global market, with arrivals rapidly growing over the past several years.

“It’s likely we’ll welcome more than 10 million overseas guests for the first time this year,” Ms Hassan said.

“International tourists are pouring into the country, which is really exciting because tourism is great for the economy,” Ms Hassan said.

“There are enormous benefits — more hotel stays, more meals in restaurants, more items sold in stores — all of that equals more jobs and a boost to the economy.”

The tourism sector provides a direct economic benefit of about AUD$55 billion each year and one in 13 Australians are employed in the industry. And it’s not just big cities that foreigners flock to. For every tourist dollar, 43 cents is spent in regional areas.

In the 12 months to September last year, Ms Hassan said 1.08 million people came from China, which topped the list, followed closely by 1.03 million New Zealand visitors.

“There are also lots of Asian countries accounting for the increase, including Singapore and Japan, which makes sense given our proximity to the region,” she said.

“There are appealing natural assets like the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, and we’re quite a safe country as well. Australia is serviced by low-cost airlines too.

“All of this plays a part in the ramp-up in tourism numbers.”

Tourism Australia said there were a total of 9.2 million international visitors in the year ending October 2018, representing an increase of 5.2 per cent on the previous year.

In all over the past five years, overseas visitor numbers have boomed by 44 per cent.

That growth trend is expected to continue, with Asian countries contributing to a boom in tourist numbers.

“China continued to underpin growth in visitation, with an increase in visitors and spend. China also accounted for 81 per cent of the growth in spend for the year,” the government body reported.

“Trip spend from China was more than three times that of the US.”

Last month, tourism operators were gearing up for their biggest December ever with visitor numbers expected to top 800,000 over the festive period.

And while government advertising campaigns abroad remain important, Ms Hassan said happy tourists are also helping to spread the word.

“Technology makes this easier because there’s no better way to showcase the country than by visitors sharing their experiences first-hand on social media,” she said.

Of those who came to Australia in 2018, the three most popular states were New South Wales (37 per cent), Victoria (26 per cent) and Queensland (22 per cent). —

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