The ABS released data for Short Term (less than one year) Arrivals and Departures for December. It shows that arrivals into Australia are continuing to grow very strongly hitting a new record high of 659,800 for the month (seasonally adjusted). This is 12% higher than a year ago and for the year as a total shows a 7.7% increase.
As has been the case for some time, arrivals from China were leading the growth. For the first time ever arrivals (when measured both seasonally and via the Trend series) from China exceeded 100,000 for the month. The seasonally adjusted data (103,300 for the month) was an increase of 36.5% from a year ago and was up 21.5% over the sum total for the year. In December Chinese arrivals accounted for 15.7% of all arrivals ( a new record) and made up 14% of arrivals over the year (another record). The less volatile Trend series (100,300 for the month) showed a 34.1% increase from a year ago and a 23.1% jump over the course of the whole year.
Departures also grew strongly and hit a new seasonally adjusted record of 815,400 for the month. Departures were up 6% from a year ago and increased 3.8% over the whole year. With Arrivals growing so much faster than departures it is no surprise to see the gap between the two shrinking and over the course of the past 12 months that gap has now declined to less than 2 million for the first time in almost 4 years.
Chinese New Year celebrations are well under way in the Far North and judging by the number of visitors in Cairns at the moment we can expect to see some solid data for the Far North in the first quarter International Visitor Survey (although this will not be available until June) and forthcoming data from the ABS.