International & National Visitor Surveys provide no joy for TNQ

Tourism Research Australia have released their International and National Visitor Surveys for the year to Dec 2019 today (see here). This will be the last tourism data set we see before the impacts of COVID-19 and the travel bans start to show up in the March quarter.

Australia saw international visitors lift by 2.2% y/y while international expenditures were up 4.0%. In Queensland growth was far more modest with visitor numbers up just 0.7% and expenditure lifting only 1.5% y/y (which would mean a real decline once we account for even modest inflation). Unfortunately, and largely due to sharp falls from China and the UK, international visitor numbers to TNQ were down 6.4% with expenditure falling 4.0% y/y. As a result TNQ’s share of the international market has again fallen sharply to a new low of just 9.3%.

International visits to TNQ from China were down 6.9% while the decline from the UK was even more dramatic, down 11.2%. Japan registered a very modest 0.9% increase while the US was down 2.7%, reversing a more positive trend seen throughout the earlier part of 2019.

The domestic overnight sector was rather more positive with trips within Australia up 12.0% and expenditure lifting 13.6%. Queensland, again, did less well with visits and expenditure oth up 9.6%. In TNQ while visits were up 9.6% expenditure lifted just 5.3%.

In total Australian tourism expenditure (international and domestic) was up 11.3%, Queensland 7.9% while TNQ managed barely 2.7% for the year.

The TNQ numbers will hardly be a surprise given the impacts we were already seeing at the end of the December quarter from Chinese visitor declines, but the scale of the underperformance will undoubtedly be a worry to the industry in light of what we know is coming once we start to see the 2020 data.

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