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International tourist spending growth reaches Sydney Olympic heights

The tourism sector is continuing to pick up speed after the collapse of the mining boom, with an influx of visitors from China and India and more splurging on food and wine contributing to the strongest annual growth rate in spending since the Sydney Olympics were held in 2000.

Total spending rose by 10 per cent to a record $33.4 billion in the 12 months to June 30, outpacing a 7 per cent rise in visitors to 6.6 million, the latest international visitor survey from Tourism Research Australia showed.

That included a 32 per cent rise in spending by Chinese tourists, which are worth $7 billion to the Australian economy now, and a 39 per cent rise in spending by Indian tourists to reach $1 billion for the first time, partly because of  the ICC Cricket World Cup.

Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said the result demonstrated that tourism was one of Australia's great economic strengths.

"Tourism can be our fastest-growing sector this decade if we continue to leverage our 'clean, green and safe' brand to position ourselves as the No 1 long-haul destination in Asia," Mr Robb said. 

"With China now accounting for one in every $5 spent by international visitors, it is clear that China is vital to the sustained growth of our tourism sector. That is why the government has announced a 10-year multiple-entry visitor visa for China (available online and in Mandarin language), and earlier this year struck a landmark aviation deal that will triple air capacity to 67,000 seats per week between Australia and China by the end of 2016."

Tourism Australia has been working hard to market the nation's food and wine as a key part of the visitor experience, as part of its Restaurant Australia campaign. The campaign, which will include the relocation of famous Danish restaurant Noma to Sydney over summer, has beaten its target of a $500 million annual spending increase two quarters earlier than expected.

Spending on food and wine

Tourism Australia managing director John O'Sullivan said international visitors were spending one in five of their tourism dollars on food and wine now.

"Drawing attention to the people, produce and places that lie behind our country's exceptional food and wine experiences has been a major focus of Tourism Australia's global marketing activities for the past 18 months," he said. "And, pleasingly, we're seeing the benefits of this work clearly reflected in these latest tourism figures."

The number of Chinese visitors rose by 22 per cent to a record 864,000, while there were also record arrivals from the United States, up 9 per cent to 544,000, and New Zealand, up 3 per cent to 1.2 million. India reported a 20 per cent increase in arrivals to 207,000, making it the eighth-largest market, up from 11th the previous year.

Victoria reported an 11 per cent rise in arrivals, overtaking Queensland as the second-most-popular state visited by international tourists, behind NSW.

The Sunshine Coast in Queensland reported a strong rise in the number of visitors from Europe, particularly Germany and Britain, as a result of specific marketing campaigns. This weekend it is hosting European travel media for the Queensland on Stage event, which will showcase swimming with whales, the Great Beach Drive and local produce. 

Overall, the number of visitors from Britain to Australia rose by less than 1 per cent to 629,000 over the year to June 30, but they were up by 23 per cent to 59,000 on the Sunshine Coast.

Read more: http://www.afr.com/business/tourism/international-tourist-spending-growth-reaches-sydney-olympic-heights-20150901-gjd0x3#ixzz3kcscIZaO





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