Where we’re travelling now
The new top ten
1. New Zealand New Zealand
2. United Kingdom Indonesia
3. United States United States
4. Indonesia Thailand
5. Singapore United Kingdom
6. Thailand China
7. Hong Kong Fiji
8. China Singapore
9. Fiji Hong Kong
10. Malaysia India
As recently as ten years ago travelling abroad meant flying to the UK (after the obligatory trip to New Zealand).
A radical reshaping of Australian tourist and business travel has the UK relegated to fifth place with China snapping at heels at position number six.
India, a decade ago not even near the top ten, has become our tenth most visited destination with 17,400 visits per month, up from 4000 ten years ago.
The Bureau of Statistics figures show that in February when the UK was at its coldest, more Australians visited China and more visited India than did the UK.
India, Thailand and China are by far our fastest growing destinations with double digit annual growth rates of of 15, 14 and 13 per cent, eclipsing the US and UK where visitor numbers are growing 7 and 4 per cent.
China and Hong Kong combined now take in more Australian visitors per month than the United States.
Curiosity is growing in both directions...
Australia is receiving 47,000 visitors per month from China (and a further 15,000 from Hong Kong), well in excess of the 40,000 that come from the US and within spitting distance of the 49,000 who come from the United Kingdom.
China is on track to replace the UK as the biggest source of visitors to Australia after New Zealand.
Tourism minister Martin Ferguson welcomed the new order saying China had the potential to add $9 billion to Australia’s tourism industry by 2020.
“New aviation agreements mean there are now 900,000 seats per year between China and Australia and we are funding businesses to become China ready through the Welcoming Chinese Visitors Project. We are also focusing marketing on China.”
Tourism & Transport Forum chief executive John Lee said he was pleased Australia was no longer as reliant on one source of visitors but warned against over-reliance on Australia's biggest trading partner.
“We have to promote Australia in a variety of markets. Any ramping up of activities in China must be paid for by extra funding, not by shifting resources from other areas,” he said.
Chinese visitor numbers dipped in February as a result of the timing of this year’s lunar new year. The future of UK numbers is uncertain after the introduction of the UK airport passenger duty on April 1.
“It now costs a British family of four coming to Australia $A 560 in airport passenger duty alone, which will not only reduce demand, but will reduce the spending capacity of those visitors when they arrive,” Mr Lee said.
“Some will avoid long-haul destinations such as Australia.”
Australians took 657,300 trips abroad in February, way in excess of the 498,900 visits to Australia from abroad.
In today's Sydney Morning Herald and Age
. We're getting economic refugees
. One in 30 of us were outside the country?
. The currency drives tourism