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The changing face of Australian inbound tourism

The changing face of Australian inbound tourism
December 18, 2014

New research from IBISWorld shows the changing nature of Australian tourism with Chinese visitors now the biggest spenders while Koreans stay the longest.

In a snapshot of today’s transforming tourism sector, IBISWorld predict that Australia’s total tourism market is expected to be worth $117.2 billion in 2014/15 with the industry  benefiting as international travellers take advantage of the weakening dollar to visit Australia.

Annualised growth of 1.9% is forecast over the next five years, ahead of inflation, with revenue expected to reach $128.6 billion in 2019-20.

IBISWorld industry analyst Ryan Lin predicts “IBISWorld expects inbound visitor numbers to Australia to grow by 6.0% this financial year to total 7.1 million, with the majority of this growth coming from neighbouring countries including China, Malaysia, Singapore and India – all of which are growing faster as sources of tourists than our traditional inbound visitor markets.”

Since mid-2013, the falling Australian dollar has been a key factor driving inbound tourism growth, as has the expansion of the middle classes and their incomes in emerging economies. At the same time, traditional markets have felt the impact of poor economic conditions. Looking ahead, IBISWorld expects emerging economies to continue to outpace traditional markets because of their greater scope for growth.

Lin explains “with non-traditional tourism markets now driving growth across the sector, savvy businesses are expanding their services in a bid to attract the growing number of Asian tourists seeking luxury experiences during their stay.”

Looking at the motivation for visiting Australia, holidays – unsurprisingly – account for the largest proportion of visits, with growth in this segment significantly outpacing growth across other visitor categories including business, education, employment, and visiting family and friends. The unique Australian landscape continues to be a major draw for visitors from established and emerging markets. Operators in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland are leveraging internationally renowned areas like the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and the Kimberley to meet this demand.

Growing markets
As the Australian tourism sector is transformed by increasing inbound visitors from Asia, tourism operators are taking advantage of new revenue streams by adapting to the needs of new visitor groups. The industry has previously developed services to cater to so-called independent tourists from major western economies like the United Kingdom, United States and Germany. Independent tourists are often experienced travellers, tending to organise their own transport and accommodation, and are avid users of online tourism platforms.

However, times are changing. In 2013, China overtook the United Kingdom as the second-largest source of visitors to Australia, with more than 671,000 arrivals. Chinese tourists have also been the biggest spenders since 2010, averaging $7,418 per capita per trip in 2014. Korean tourists, however, stay the longest, with an average trip duration of 57 days.

Lin adds “what is notable about emerging markets for Australia is that the culture of this tourism is still developing.

"Travellers from these markets have a greater propensity to pay for advice to cut down on the complexity of planning a foreign holiday.”




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