Short-term arrivals top 8.4 million for 12 months to March

Seasonally adjusted short-term arrivals have broken through the 8.4 million mark for the previous 12 months for the first time. Annual growth has exceeded 10% for each of the past 9 months, with it sitting at 10.3% in March. China remains a major growth factor with arrivals up 12.9% annually; although this is the slowest pace of growth for the sector since Sept 2014. Annual arrivals from China are edging closer to 1.25 million for the 12 months to March (1.24 million).

Short-term departures actually fell from a year ago (-4.0%), the first dip in almost 2 years, and are up just 3.6% for the 12 months to March.

Data from the Tourism Research Australia International and National Visitor Surveys are due for release in the first and third weeks of June.

Domestic tourism continues to dive in TNQ

Tourism Research Australia’s National Visitor Survey for the December quarter (available here) does not make happy reading for the industry in the Far North. While total overnight domestic visitors in Australia rose by 4.2% from the previous year, and were up by 3.4% in Queensland, the TNQ region saw a decline of 11.3%. Overnight domestic visitors to the region fell to 1.9 million for the year to end Dec 2016 from 2.14 million the previous year.

Last quarter we posed the question “is the domestic tourism boom in the Far North coming to an end?” (see here) and concluded that it was probably too early to say. We wanted to see more data. Well, that data’s now in and it doesn’t look good.

Expenditure from domestic overnight visitors to TNQ has fallen by 15.5% from the previous year; this equates to almost $400 million less being spent in the region. Day visits have never played a large part in the TNQ story, but here too we see weakness (down 0.4%) in the face of stronger national and Queensland numbers (both up about 5.5%). Combining both overnight and day visits we see expenditure in TNQ down by 14.4% over the year.

As the chart below makes clear, the solid growth in international visitors (which continues unabated…see here from a fortnight ago) is not enough to make up for the large decline in the (much larger) domestic market. Total visitor expenditure in the region for the 2016 year fell 7.5% from 2015.

The reasons for such a decline over the past three quarters is not yet clear, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the heavily negative media regarding the bleaching event on the northern GBR last year (unfortunately being repeated again this year in the tourist hot-spots further south) may be deterring Aussies from making the trip to the north. Clearly TTNQ, and its soon-to-be-appointed new CEO, will be keen to reverse this worrying slide.

UPDATE. TTNQ have cast doubt on the data (see here) and TRA accept that the data from 2014 and 2015 could have over-stated the position for TNQ. If that is the case then the stellar results in past quarters (that TTNQ were happy to agree with) could have been an illusion…we shall have to see what TRA decide once they’ve completed their work on the data. Good coverage on this issue fro Mark Beath at Cairns Economy…see here.

China helps TNQ beat the international visitor pack

The Tourism Research Australia International Visitor Survey for the quarter to Dec 2016 (available here) shows international visitor numbers continuing to improve; although visitors are staying for less time.

Total visitors for the year hit a new record high of 7.625 million; an increase of 11.2% from the previous year. Expenditures rose by 8.1% to $26.2 bn which saw the average expenditure per night fall by 2.8% while the average length of stay dropped by 8.5%.

Queensland fared not quite as well with total visitors up 10.1%, expenditure up 4.0% and average expenditure per visit falling by 5.6%.

Tropical North Queensland, lead by the surge in Chinese visitors, was a stand-out performer. Total visitor numbers were up 15.4% to 901,000. Despite expenditure rising strongly (up 10.2% to $1.12 bn) the average spend per visit fell 4.5%. As a result TNQ’s share of the international visitor market has started to climb back from the lows seen in 2012, although there’s still a very long way to go to return to the heady days of a decade ago when 17% of all international visitors were coming to the Far North.

But make no mistake, the solid TNQ performance isn’t all down to China. While China saw a huge 32.1% gain in total visitors to the region (to 229,000) Japan also experienced very good growth (up 21.2%) , as did the US (up 14.6%). As we can see from the chart below, the US and Japan have now pulled well clear of the pack behind China.

The tourism picture for 2016 will be completed in a fortnight’s time when we see TRA’s National Visitor Survey released.


Arrivals and Departures data powers ahead

The ABS released their short term arrivals and departures data for January this morning and it confirms the ongoing strength for the tourism sector.

Arrivals in Jan hit  a new record high (seasonally adjusted) of 716,700 for the month which is an increase of 8.7% from the same time a year ago. Over the past 12 months total arrivals exceeded 8.3 million (also a new high) and are up 10.3% from a year ago. China continues to be an important component of these arrivals and were at 111,500 in Jan (+10.5% y/y) for a 12 month total of 1.22 million (up 11.6% y/y). Chinese arrivals have been hovering just below 15% of all arrivals over the course of the year for the past 8 months now.

Departures are also still growing and stood at 851,900 in Jan (up 3.9% from a year ago). Over the 12 months departures were at 9.9 million (another new high) which is an increase of 4.2% for the year.

Tourism data powers ahead in Dec

Today’s release of short-term (less than 12 months) arrivals and departures data from the ABS for Dec shows the tourism boom still well and truly in place. Arrivals increased by 6.8% from the same time a year ago, and are up 10.6% over the past 12 months in total. While the seasonally adjusted data showed Chinese arrivals barely changed over the year (+0.6% y/y) they remain 16% higher for the 12 months. The less volatile Trend series shows a 7.6% increase year on year and also a 16.3% gain for the 12 months. Indeed, the Trend number for the month has hit a new record high of 105,300.

Departures are also still on the way up, although the pace of growth is significantly slower; up 2% y/y and up 4.4% over the 12 months.

The gap between the total number leaving and those arriving over the past 12 months has fallen to a 5 1/2 year low.

Has the TNQ domestic tourism boom come to an end?

Today saw the release of Tourism Australia’s National Visitor Survey for the Sept quarter (available for download here). It shows domestic tourism growing at almost 5% nationally but QLD, and TNQ in particular, not performing as well.

Nation-wide domestic overnight visitors increased by 4.8% on the year to Sept to exceed 89 million. In QLD the increase, to 20 million, was just 1.6%. In our own region we saw overnight domestic visitor numbers to TNQ actually decline by 7.3% over the year to less than 1.9 million. When we consider just holiday visitors the decline is even greater at -12.4%. This takes the region’s share of the domestic market back to 2.1%, having hit recent record highs of almost 2.5% just 6 months ago. Total domestic expenditure in the Tropical North fell by 3.4% (to $2 billion) as the average spent per visitor increased by more than double the rate of inflation, 4.1%.

In answer to the question posed in the post title, I think it’s probably too early to suggest the boom is over. As we can see from the chart below domestic tourism expenditure in the region remains well above the levels seen just a few years ago. Nevertheless, it is also clear that we have come well off the peaks seen earlier this year. A few more quarters of data should confirm one way or the other but I would certainly want to see TTNQ making some moves to address the significant decline in the TNQ domestic market which has come as total domestic tourism numbers nation-wide hit new record highs.

Short term arrivals and departures jump to new highs

The climb in the numbers of visitors coming to, and leaving, Australia continues in the latest data for Oct from the ABS.

Short term arrivals hit a new record of 713,300 (seasonally adjusted) for the month; an increase of 12.7% from the same time a year ago and a total of 8.1 million for the 12 months. The growth in Chinese visitors remains the prime driver with numbers up by 13.8% from a year ago to a new record high of almost 1.2 million in the past 12 months.

Departures were also up to a new high of 845,300 for the month and 9.8 million over the past 12 months.