International Visitors to Australia up 6.5%; TNQ continues to suffer down 0.4%

Today’s release of the International Visitor Survey for the year to Dec 2017 from Tourism Research Australia (available here) is once again bad news for TNQ. Despite visitor numbers to Australia increasing by 6.5% for the year to Dec, and those to Queensland up a less impressive 4.3%, the number of international visitors coming to the Tropical North has fallen by 0.4% to 897,079.

Regional expenditure by international visitors rose by 8.2% nationally (which saw the average expenditure per visitor not quite keeping pace with inflation at +1.6%) and was up just 3.7% in Queensland (so average spend per visitor fell by 0.7% in the Sunshine State). In TNQ  total expenditure and average expenditure per visitor fell about 4% (which equates to a decline of almost 7% in real terms). The under-performance of TNQ sees our share of the international market fall once again to just 11%. Queensland as a whole would have done a lot worse were it not for some healthy growth into Brisbane which saw visitor numbers up 6.7% and expenditure increase 11.4%.

When we look at the breakdown of the TNQ data we see that Chinese visitors fell by 6.0%, US were down 1.6% with Japan and the UK both recording small (0.8%) increases. As the chart below makes clear, it is starting to look very much like the “China boom” may have run its course in the Far North. With other core markets struggling to make headway there is surely some concern for an industry which appears unable to fully tap into the continued national surge in international visitor numbers. Over the past 5 years international visitor numbers to Australia have increased by 45.3% while those to TNQ are up 35.7%; the industry in the Far North has undoubtedly seen significant growth but is under-performing by some 2% per annum on average…had the region kept pace with the national trend we would be looking at an extra 63,000 visitors in the past year.

Domestic tourism data will be released in a fortnight (this is the more important sector for TNQ) so we shall wait and see if the slight q/q recovery seen in the Sept quarter data (see here) has continued and if the sector can return to year-on-year growth.

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