Australia’s Short-term Tourist Arrivals surged to almost nine million in 2017

28 Feb 2018


  • Edmund Tang
  • International Trade
  • Tourists
  • Visitor Economy

There were 8.8 million short-term (that is, involving stays of less than one year) international visitor arrivals to Australia for the year ending December 2017. That was an increase of 6.5 per cent relative to the previous year, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics . Ten out of our top 15 tourism markets remain in the Asia-Pacific region, with total sightseers of more than 5.2 million in the year ending December 2017. The number of inbound travellers from these ten combined markets rose by 6.3 per cent over the same period in 2016 and accounted for almost 60 per cent of total overseas tourist in Australia in 2017.

China remained one of Australia’s strongest growth markets with short-term arrivals in Australia rising by 12 per cent to 1.355 million in the year to December 2017, making the country our second largest source of visitors after New Zealand (1.356 million)[1]. The pace of change from this market has been dramatic: ten years ago, the annual total of Chinese travellers was just 354,700. Chinese arrivals in Australia have grown by one million or at a compound growth rate of around 14 per cent a year since 2007. The visitor gap between New Zealand and Australia has sharply narrowed to only 900 for the year ending December 2017 from 774,300 for the year ending December 2007.

Australia’s major traditional markets have also strengthened over the past five years: combined arrivals from New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom, which collectively account for one third of Australia’s total arrivals, increased by an average rate of four per cent a year to 2.9 million in 2017. This compared favourably with an average growth rate of only 0.1 per cent and a flat tourist number of 2.3 million over the years between 2006 and 2011.

Tourist arrivals from other key Asian markets also performed relatively well over the past five years: arrivals from Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan all rose by double-digit annual growth rates to about 396,000, 282,000 and 181,000 in 2017, respectively. After growing by an average 12 per cent per annum between 2013 and 2016, Indian market continued to surge in 2017, up 15 per cent to exceed 300,000. Once again, the scale of rise over a relatively short time frame has been quite striking: the annual flow of short-term arrivals from India was just 90,000 in 2007.


[1]  In seasonally adjusted terms, tourist arrivals from China grew by 13.3 per cent to 1.383 million in the year to December 2017, overtaking New Zealand as Australia’s largest source of visitors (1.355 million).