After a concerning few months for Chinese visitor data, today sees the release of Feb data from the ABS (the period in which Chinese New Year fell this year) and it suggests that the China boom may still be intact. The ABS are rushing to catch up with their arrivals and departures data so we have the Feb data released just 11 days after January; and we expect to see March data on June 23rd.
Looking at the total numbers we see arrivals up to 602,000 in Feb, which represents a 6.9% increase from a year ago. A large part of this jump up in arrivals is due to Chinese flooding into the country for Chinese New Year. Departures were also up and are now 4.5% higher than a year ago.
February saw a (seasonally adjusted) 86,600 arrivals from China (up 16.7% from a year ago and 20,500 more than in Jan). However, as we constantly note, the Chinese data is far too volatile when considered as a seasonally adjusted series (not only because of the issues caused by Chinese New Year moving months over differing years, but also because of the relatively small sample size) and we should instead focus on the Trend series.
When looking at the Trend data we see Chinese visitors at 76,700 (up from 75,900 last month) which is a 18.2% increase from a year ago. Perhaps even more significantly we also see revisions to the Trend estimates for the past few months reverse out the 4 months of Trend declines that we noted last month (see commentary here). What had looked like a decline from the latter part of 2014 through to Jan this year now appears as merely a flattening out before another move upwards. Of course we may see that position change again in a few weeks when we get the March data; if we see a big fall in March then the Feb New Year-impacted data may turn out to be just a blip. Such are the problems when trying to analyse data which is so heavily impacted by factors that are almost impossible to adjust for…..