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Latest International Visitor Survey shows record tourism performance in 2019

Latest International Visitor Survey shows record tourism performance in 2019
April 9, 2020

Total tourism spending by international and domestic day and overnight visitors reached a record $152.4 billion last year according the latest International Visitor Survey from Tourism Research Australia.

The newly released figures that 117.4 million domestic visits saw Australians spend a record $80.7 billion in the year to December 2019, while tourism exports have delivered more than $45.4 billion

Transport ($24.7 billion), food and drink ($22.4 billion) and accommodation ($20.3 billion) contributed most to total domestic overnight spend over the year while two-thirds of domestic overnight trips (79.1 million) were for intrastate travel, though interstate travel generated greater spend overall (56% or $45.0 billion).

Interstate trips ($1,173) cost more on average per person than did intrastate trips ($452) primarily due to greater transport expenses and longer trip durations.

Visitor nights were most often spent at a friends or relative’s property (34%), in hotels, motels and resorts (24%) and caravanning and camping (14%).

However, the IVS results now show where the industry was at prior to the almost total shutdown of the industry, with Australian Tourism Export Council Managing Director, Peter Shelley stating “remember these figures, sadly they are the best we will see for some time.

“Shift forward to April 2020 and we see an industry devastated by COVID-19 with mass job shedding, business closures, hibernation, dislocation of the export channel and an industry desperately trying to hold on till we get to the other side.

“While Australia’s domestic tourism sector may revive in the coming months, it’s likely international tourism will be much slower and longer to rebuild and our growth will be greatly handicapped on the other side.

“Australia remains a desirable destination and we have members who are still getting inquiries from international guests who are wanting to come later this year, the trouble is we just don’t know if the borders will be open.

“We often go back to the horror of September 11, when every plane across the globe was grounded for just a few days. That was a disaster for international tourism, but now we are looking at an international travel lockdown for at least 6 months.”

In a survey of 500 industry members released today, ATEC reveals 49% of respondents believe New Zealand will be the first international market to re-engage, followed by China (26%) with traditional markets of Europe, the UK and US expected to be the last to return to our shores.

In the meantime, ATEC has developed a whole-of industry, integrated support package to help tourism businesses rebuild and come out the other side stronger and more capable of facing the new normal.

Shelley added “a key feature of our program will be engaging the skills and knowledge of our Inbound Tour Operators in helping tourism regions to develop new tourism product for the international market.

“One thing tourism businesses can do during this hibernation period is to work on their business – most of the time they are focused on working in their business, providing service to their customers. We want to make sure these businesses are able to use this opportunity to re-skill for a new tourism marketplace.”

Key findings on Australia’s International Tourism released by Austrade include

  • Australia saw record numbers of international visitors aged 15 years and over for the year to December 2019 with 8.7 million arrivals - 2% more than the previous year. This supported a 3% growth in total trip spend, which reached a record $45.4 billion.
  • The Asian market was the top contributor to the growth in international tourism, providing 88% of the additional $1.5 billion spend gained in 2019, and 69% of the 185,000 visitor increase.
  • Despite double-digit percentage growth over much of the last decade, China saw a plateau in visitation with numbers steady at 1.3 million. However, spend was up 6% to $12.4 billion due mainly to growth from high spending Chinese students.
  • There was growth in visitation across all purposes of travel over the year. Leading the way was employment, up 4% to 212,000 visitors; and education and holiday travel up 3% to 594,000 and 4 million visitors respectively.
  • The most popular activities undertaken by holiday visitors to Australia were eating out (91%), shopping (81%), sightseeing (80%) and going to the beach (71%). North American and European (incl. UK) visitors were the most adventurous holiday makers, with higher participation rates across most activities.

Image shows the Cairns Esplanade.

Related Articles

6th March 2020 - ATEC highlights the ongoing threat of Coronavirus to export tourism industry

17th January 2020 - ATEC emphasises the need for positive messages to international tourists

28th November 2019 - ATEC recognises outstanding industry achievements for 2019

4th October 2019 - ATEC launches program for WA tourism operators hosting Japanese visitors

19th November 2018 - Tourism leaders gather in Darwin for ATEC’s Meeting Place

28th July 2018 - ATEC sees continued need to keep getting inbound tourism right

6th April 2020 - Online conference to address tourism challenges through Coronavirus pandemic

26th March 2020 - Gold Coast tourism leader says Coronavirus restrictions ‘death by a thousand cuts’

25th March 2020 - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces new measures aimed at slowing spread of Coronavirus

23rd March 2020 - Coronavirus Update: Aussie World, the AOC, Keep Gyms Open Petition, NRL, Queensland Art Gallery and Sydney Biennale - 23rd March

23rd March 2020 - Prime Minister Morrison announces new social restrictions to prevent Coronavirus spread that will last for months

23rd March 2020 - Australian Government announces enhanced $66 billion Coronavirus stimulus package


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