New statistics show that Australia enjoyed a bumper tourism year last year with its strongest annual growth in overseas visitor numbers since the Sydney Games.
While it has been a major boon for hotels in the metropolitan centres and easily accessible ‘tourist destinations’, there has also been a noticeable lift in the number of foreign travellers venturing into the campsites and caravan parks. But tourism authorities still want more.
In New South Wales for example, a record 3.3 million international tourists touched down in the state last year, spending a whopping $7.7 billion. However – although the number of them that travelled to the outback areas of NSW – jumped by 50% from the previous year, there were still only 13,000 who made the effort to head bush.
Across the country, the latest International Visitor Survey showed the total overseas tourist spend had grown 10% to $33.4 billion, or $3.2 billion more than the previous year.
Chinese tourists accounted for more than a fifth of that expenditure, parting with $19 million a day, or $7 billion for the year. There is growing evidence that Chinese tourists are becoming more willing to go camping in more remote parts of Australia and embrace the adventure on offer. Tourism researchers say the Chinese – like most other travellers – are looking for an immersive experience where they can shake hands with the locals, and say ‘G’Day’.
The new statistics also show record growth in visitors from the US – up 9% to 544,000, and New Zealand, up 3% to 1.2 million arrivals.