Australia’s tourist arrivals exceed 9 million in 2018

27 Feb 2019


  • Edmund Tang
  • Tourists

Australia attracted 9.3 million short-term international visitors in the year ending December 2018, according to data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The tourist arrivals – which involve stays of less than one year – contributed to a strong, 7.3% increase per annum between 2013 and 2018.

The Asia-Pacific region continues to dominate in-bound tourism. Countries in the region accounted for 11 of our top-15 tourism markets, and 5.7 million sightseers in 2018. The number of arrivals from these 11 markets has risen by 8.5% per year over the past five years and now accounts for 61% of total overseas tourist arrivals in Australia.

China remains one of Australia’s strongest growth markets. The number of short-term holidaymakers arriving in Australia from China has risen by 14.5% per year since 2013 to almost 1.5 million in 2018. This was the second year China overtook New Zealand as our largest source of visitors.

The pace of change from Chinese market has been dramatic: ten years ago, the annual total of Chinese sightseers in Australia was just 360,000. Chinese arrivals have grown by more than one million since 2008.

Australia’s major traditional markets have also strengthened over the past five years. Combined arrivals from New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, which collectively account for more than one third of Australia’s total arrivals, increased by an average rate of 4.4% per year to 3.4 million.

The recent growth in arrivals from traditional markets compares favourably with the period from 2008 to 2013. During this period arrivals grew by just 0.1% per annum, and flat-lined at approximately 2.7 million.

Tourist arrivals from other Asian markets have also performed strongly over the past five years. Arrivals from Hong Kong and Taiwan both surged by double-digit annual growth rates to about 309,000 and 204,000 respectively. Inbound tourists from ASEAN markets have grown by 8.5% a year to 1.441 million. The combined total for ASEAN markets is currently on a par with arrivals from China.

After growing by an average 10% per annum between 2008 and 2013, the Indian market has expanded at an even faster rate over the subsequent five years, rising 15% per year to almost 360,000 in 2018. Once again, the scale of rise over a relatively short time frame has been quite prominent: the annual flow of short-term arrivals from India was less than 110,000 ten years ago.