Australia / Spotlight Reports
February Economic Update: Overseas Arrivals and Departures

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by Nathan Cloutman
Feb 21 2020

Earlier this week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its latest Overseas Arrivals and Departures statistics. The data shows that overseas visitor arrivals have increased 0.3% over the month of December to total 797,200 trips (trend estimates). The increase in inbound tourism during the month follows a long-term trend, with the number of short-term arrivals rising by 2.6% during 2019. The 9.5 million visitor arrivals in 2019 is the highest year on record.

The largest sources of visitors over the past year have been New Zealand, China and the United States. While Chinese visitor numbers have risen strongly over the past decade, the ABS has stated that visitor numbers from China have fallen by 0.9% over 2019. The 2019–20 Australian bushfire season has had a significant negative impact on visitor arrivals from China, which has put pressure on many regional tourism businesses. While the impact of the coronavirus outbreak has not been accounted for in the ABS statistics to date, the travel ban on visitors from mainland China is set to further reduce Chinese tourist arrival numbers in the short-term at least.

Other markets that have declined in terms of arrival numbers are the United Kingdom and the United States. Economic uncertainty stemming from Brexit has discouraged many Brits from undertaking expensive overseas trips over the period. The severe bushfires have also discouraged visitors from the United Kingdom, the United States and other markets from visiting Australia. However, there is some positives in that inbound tourism from India continues to grow strongly, with the country emerging as the next big focus for Tourism Australia and other tourism businesses.