As the ABS quickly play catch-up with the Overseas Arrivals & Departures data we see the March data released today. Yesterday we also saw the release of the TRA International Visitor Survey for the final quarter of last year (see here for commentary). We’re now starting to get a much clearer picture of the current state of play for tourism.
The Arrivals data for March shows total arrivals up 11.5% from the same month last year; the total for the past 12 months is now 7.3% higher than at this time last year. The seasonally adjusted data for the Chinese arrivals shows that the dramatic spike-up we saw in the Feb data (on the back of the Chinese New Year) has fallen back, as we would have expected. In spite of this arrivals remain 22.8% higher than a year ago. With the wild level of seasonality in the Chinese numbers we would much prefer to focus on the Trend data and here we see arrivals up 18.8% on the year. The Chinese visitor boom is still very much in place although the rate of growth is just as definitively slowing; 6 months ago the 12 month running total was growing at a rate of 23.5%; that’s now fallen back to 18.1%.
Departures are also still growing healthily (+12.3% from a year ago) despite the somewhat weaker A$ making foreign travel for Aussies that much more expensive. We would normally expect this relationship to be lagged by between 6 and 12 months (i.e. people make travel plans a long time in advance so changes in cost can take quite a while to filter through into actual travel outcomes). However, as the chart below shows, the A$ has been falling pretty consistently for nearly two years now and there still appears to be no impact on overseas travel. Perhaps we’ve just got so wealthy and used to foreign travel that we’re going to do it whatever the cost?