(Australian Associated Press)
Chinese tourist spending in Australia soared to $7.7 billion over the past year, rising at more than three times the rate of increase in overall visitor spending.
Spending by visitors from China rose 43 per cent in the 12 months to September compared to the previous year as a drop in the value of the Australian dollar helped make the country more affordable to overseas visitors.
Chinese visitor expenditure has now exceeded the tourist industry’s annual target of $7.4 billion – set in 2010 – five years ahead of schedule.
It’s also more than the combined $7.5 billion spent by Britons, Americans and Canadians.
Total inbound visitor spending grew 13 per cent to a record $34.8 billion, according to Tourism Research Australia.
The Australian tourist industry, which includes hotels, airlines, restaurants and operators, has received a welcome boost from the decline in the Australian dollar.
Even after its recent mini recovery, the Aussie is down almost 15 per cent against the US dollar compared to this time last year.
Tourism Research Australia managing director John O’Sullivan said the September quarter was the third straight quarter to boast double digit spending growth.
The priority now is to get visitors out of the capital cities and spending their dollars across the whole country, he said.
The 43 per cent increase in Chinese spending came as visitor numbers leaped by a quarter.
“The tyranny of time, distance and cost mean that Australia will never be a high volume destination,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
“Our Tourism 2020 strategy is unashamedly focused upon yield: encouraging international visitors to stay longer, disperse further and ultimately do more and spend more while in our country.”
Food and wine spending by visitors is approaching $700 million, far exceeding the $500 million target the industry set itself when it launched a Restaurant Australia advertising campaign in December 2013.