The ABS have been doing a good job getting the overseas arrivals and departures data up-to-date after the problems with a change in card processing. Today we see the data for April and just a few days later, next week, we’ll have the May data which will bring us up-to-date and the ABS ready to revert to their usual monthly released cycle.
The data for April shows arrivals (seasonally adjusted) fell slightly from the previous month although they remain up 6.9% from a year earlier. The total for the 12 months to April exceeded 7.05 million to set a new record. Arrivals from China have been, and continue to be, a major driver of that growth. After the Chinese New Year distortions of the previous few months have been and gone we see seasonally adjusted arrivals from China down very slightly on the month but up 19.7% from a year ago. The ABS seasonal adjustment for the impact on Chinese New Year is extremely suspect given the fact that the date of New Year (and therefore the month in which the impact is seen) varies from year to year. We therefore prefer to consider the Trend series; this shows arrivals up for the month to 80,700 (a new record and the first time over 80,000) for an increase of 19.0% over the year. The total number of Trend arrivals from China over the past 12 months also hits a new record of 900,900.
Departures fell quite sharply in April to 776,500 which is 2.8% lower than a year ago. This is the first year-on-year decline in departures that we’ve seen since March last year. Looking back through the data it appears that when we have seen year-on-year falls in the past few years they have tended to be in March or April (Mar ’14, Apr ’12, Mar ’11, Mar ’09 and Mar ’06) which would suggest that there is some Easter based problem with the seasonal adjustment process at play rather than a more notable actual decline.