Today saw the release of the International Visitor Survey for the Sept quarter from Tourism Research Australia (you can access the full report here). It shows a very solid growth of total international visitors to Australia for the year to Sept, up 6.6% over the year. Expenditure rose by 15.2% while the average expenditure per visitor was up 8.0%.
Chinese visitor numbers rose sharply, up 11.6% over the year. The US and UK also grew well (+8.1% and 6.3% respectively) while Japanese visitor numbers fell by 1.4%.
Th results for QLD were slightly less stellar, although still very positive. Total visitors to the state were up 6.3%, total expenditure rose 13.5% and the average expenditure per visitor was up 6.8%. As a result, QLD’s share of the international visitor market remained stable at 33.8% (although this is still well below levels seen a decade ago).
Despite the growth in Chinese numbers, total visitors to TNQ were up a rather disappointing 4.1% for the year with average expenditure per visitor up just 4.0%. Once again we see the Far North falling behind the rest of the country in the international tourism stakes. TNQ’s share of the international visitor market has now fallen to 11.3%; its lowest level since June last year. The tourism industry in the area has been having a much better time recently on the back of the falling A$. We have seen very healthy domestic visitor growth (the National Visitor Survey is due for release in a fortnight). However, the region is failing to take full advantage of the rapid growth in the international market and continues to lag behind other regions.
A decade ago Melbourne attracted 24.9% of international visitors; today that percentage is 33.1% and the city is drawing in almost one million more visitors per year than back in 2005. Over the same period TNQ’s share has fallen from 16.8% to just 11.3%; had we maintained our market share international visitors would now be running at over 1.1 million instead of the 756,000 we actually recorded (a 48% increase!).
UPDATE. The Cairns Post leads today with a puff piece from Nick Dalton spruiking the IVS data as proving that TNQ has “stolen the international holiday-maker crown”. The numbers they quote relate purely to Holiday travellers (rather than the total which includes business, visiting family & friends, employment and education) and do indeed show that TNQ has done well recently. Holiday travel to the region is up 4.9% for the year to Sept 2015 which is better than the national average of a 3.2% increase; although it is still slower than QLD’s growth at 5.6%.
What the piece fails to mention is that since Sept 2006 holiday-maker travel to TNQ is actually still down 9.4% while to Australia as a whole it is up 12.9%. A decade ago TNQ accounted for almost 30% of holiday-maker international travel; that is now down to less than 24%. No matter how you look at it, TNQ is still lagging behind.