Today saw the release by Tourism Research Australia of the (delayed) International Visitor Survey for the year to March 2018 (available here), and while it’s good news for Australia (and to a lesser degree Queensland) the results are very disappointing for the Tropical North.
International visitors to Australia were up 7.5% for the year to a new record 8.3 million (with the bulk of that increase coming from China which saw visitor numbers jump 13.1%) with total expenditures increasing by 6.7% to more than $29 billion. Queensland saw visitor numbers up 5.5% with expenditure rise 6.4% (bucking the national trend of a small decline in average expenditure per visit with a small 0.9% increase).
Unfortunately however the TNQ region saw visitor numbers drop 1.1%, expenditure fall 2.9% and the average expenditure per visit down 1.9%. Bear in mind that all the expenditure data is nominal and therefore needs to be adjusted down by about 2% to allow for price inflation. This decline takes TNQ’s share of the total Australian international visitor market to a new low, and the first time it’s fallen below 11%, of just 10.6%.
Putting that decline of share into some perspective; a decade ago TNQ accounted for 16.1% of all international visitors, the same share today would mean an additional 453,000 international visitors to the region over and above the current 880,000. Over the same period international visitors to Melbourne and Sydney have increased by about 1.4 million each, Hobart has seen an extra 130,000 (up an astonishing 106%!), the Gold Coast has added 200,000 (this data pre-dates the April Commonwealth Games) and the Whitsundays have seen 20,000 more. Tropical North Queensland welcomed 47,000 fewer international visitors for the year to March 2018 than they did for the same period in 2008; a fall of 5.6% while the total market rose by 61.3%.
Fortunately the domestic market in TNQ has been doing very well (see here for details) and as a result total visitor expenditure to the region is up 6.5% to $3.46 billion (a new high).
I will update the TNQ data once I receive the unpublished regional breakdown of visitors from TRA which could be early next week.