After some disappointing quarters for international tourism, including from China, into the Far North (see here for details), and the detrimental impact of the charter flight fiasco in the 2017 Chinese New Year it’s certainly encouraging to see TTNQ releasing some positive data relating to this year’s New Year period.
In a media release today TTNQ’s CEO Pip Close says that many operators in the region were “experiencing increases in Chinese travellers of up to 13 per cent from the previous New Year“. Of particular interest is a comment that a higher proportion than expected of these Chinese visitors are travelling as independents. Ms. Close said that “some operators reported up to 40 per cent independent Chinese travellers, which is much higher than the 30 per cent anticipated by earlier research.” If this indeed turns out to be the case then the knock-on effects of the Chinese visitor boom in Cairns will finally start to be more widely felt across the region.
It will not be until early June that we get to see the results of the Tourism Research Australia International Visitor Survey for the March 2018 quarter which will allow us to hopefully confirm this anecdotal evidence. The next national short term arrivals data (for Feb), which will provide us with some insight as to the track of Chinese visitors generally, will be released in mid-April.
On our current estimation, based upon previous IVS data and the impact of Chinese New Year, if the suggested 13% increase for the Chinese New Year period were to be accurate then that would take Chinese visitors to TNQ for the March 2018 quarter to a similar level to that seen in March 2016 and result in an approximately 3% increase in Chinese visitors for the year to March 2018 over the previous year. The reality is that even allowing for the impact of the lose of charter flights in the March 2017 quarter the results for the June, Sept and Dec 2017 quarters were barely changed from the respective quarters in 2016. The most recent national short term arrivals data suggests that Chinese arrivals for the year to Jan 2018 are running at about 12% annual growth.
The TRA National Visitors Survey is due for release in the middle of next week.