Arrivals & Departures data confirms slowing Chinese numbers…even before coronavirus

The release of the Short Term Arrivals and Departures data by the ABS for December confimrs the fact that the number of arrivals from China was already in decline well before the imapct of the coronavirus was felt.

While total Trend short term arrivals were up 2.6% y/y (to 801,800) the number from China fell by 0.9% to 119,200; this is the second month of reduction and the total now sits 2.9% below its high from the middle of the year. The annual pace of Chinese growth is now at its slowest (just +0.5%) since the impacts of the GFC were being felt in mid-2009.

New Zealand, maintains the crown as largest single market for Australia (that it regained last month) with arrivals up 3.9% y/y to 121,200.

Obviously the impact of the coronavirus and subsequent travel ban will show up in this data in coming months…the full extent however is unlikely to be fully appreciated for many months to come.

When we consider the State of Intended Stay data by way of the Conus Trend we see that the 2.6% y/y increase nationally was made up of a 4.2% improvement for QLD, and a 4.7% increase for Victoria while NSW slipped 0.8%. Among the smaller States and Territories Tasmania continues to perform very well, up 11.5% y/y, while the ACT also increased by 9.9%.

When we consider the past 6 years the turn-around in tourism to Tasmania (the so-called MONA effect) has been spectacular. Over the 6 years to Dec 2019 short term arrivals into Australia are up 42.4%; Victoria has done well up 68.0%, Queensland not so well up just 35.7%. But Tasmania has been a stand-out; arrivals up 142.1%! The ACT has also done well with an increase of 74.6%.

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