Mixed bag from International Visitor Survey

Today saw the release of the Dec 2013 International Visitor Survey from Tourism Research Australia (available here). This has been delayed for almost 2 months due to a change in ABS methodology for data collection related to international visitors. The results are something of a mixed bag.
Headline International Visitor numbers are up a healthy 5.6% on the year to a new record of 5.9 million. Whilst total expenditure rose 6% (and therefore suggesting a small per-visitor increase), the average per visitor expenditure (when excluding pre-paid international flights etc.) actually fell slightly by 0.3%. In real terms this equates to a 3% reduction in expenditure per visitor.
Queensland saw visitor numbers increase just 1.8% and its share of the international visitor market fall to 34.5% (from 35.7%). Average expenditure in QLD rose by 2.4% (about in line with CPI and therefore equivalent to no real change).
Visitors to TNQ rose by 3% and we saw its share of international visitors fall to 11.6% (from 11.9% a year ago). Worryingly, the average expenditure per visitor for TNQ fell by 7.1%; that equates to a decline of close to 10% in real terms over the year.
The relative weakness in the numbers for TNQ is something of a surprise given the fact that Chinese visitors to Australia increased by 13.5% over the year and now make up 11.3% of all international visitors. Indeed, Chinese visitors to TNQ were up a thumping 34.5% on the year to 142,651. Unfortunately many of the other important markets for TNQ saw big falls; NZ was down 35.8%, Japan down 7.1%, US down 5.4% and Germany down 13%. The only other major market which saw an increase for TNQ was the UK which was up 14.4%.

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