Lonely Planet Writer

Australia hits win-win jackpot on tourism trail

Australia may be suffering from a weak exchange rate for its dollar but that isn’t preventing holidaymakers from spreading their wings and seeing the world. Tourism is in a boom period in Australia as visits to its shores are setting new records as well.

Australians are using their  passport in record numbers to satisfy their love of travel despite the fact that their own dollar is significantly weaker than it was
Australians are using their passport in record numbers to satisfy their love of travel despite the fact that their own dollar is significantly weaker than it was Image by Diana Parkhouse / CC BY 2.0

The wanderlust bug has well and truly bitten as nearly three-quarters of a million Aussies headed overseas last month – 50,000 more than the numbers who travelled in January 2015.  The touring abroad level was 7.5% up on last year which translates on an annual basis to 9.5 million Australians undertaking foreign holidays. The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that New Zealand was No 1 destination with 118,800 Aussies visiting, with Indonesia in second place on just over 100,000 visitors.

Chinese visitors adding billions to Australian economy.
Chinese visitors adding billions to Australian economy. Image by grace_kat / CC BY-SA 2.0

However the Melbourne Morning Herald reports that people continue to be attracted to the USA in large numbers, despite the fact that the Aussie dollar is currently weak against its US counterpart. Japan is also proving itself an increasing attraction with visits up by 10.5% to over 44,000 for the month.

New Zealand is the top draw for Australians going abroad
New Zealand is the top draw for Australians going abroad Image by Tom Hall / CC BY 2.0

Visitor numbers  to Australia continue to grow with Chinese tourist levels climbing by a whopping 55% on last year’s numbers. John O’Sullivan, the Tourism Australia Managing Director described the month on month Chinese growth from nearly 74,000 to over 114,000 as “phenomenal.” Of the 620,500 international visitors arriving, over half of them spend most of their stay in New South Wales. However Victoria recorded the biggest growth in this sector with an 18.8% increase to 201,700 with Queensland second on 10.7% to 165,000.

Qatar Airways id expanding its daily flight numbers into Australia
Qatar Airways has launched a daily flight service into Sydney and plans to also fly into Adelaide and possibly Brisbane Image by curimedia PHOTOGRAPHY / CC BY 2.0

A major reason for the surge in numbers visiting Australia is due to the increased flight capacity. And the good news for the country’s tourism industry is that with Qatar Airways just launching a new daily service to Sydney from Doha and extra flights from the carrier due into Adelaide and Brisbane, this trend should continue to spiral upwards. Other airlines commencing services include Air Canada which, in June, is introducing a direct daily service between Brisbane and Vancouver while from the autumn, Singapore Airlines will fly into Canberra. In addition to all that activity, both Qantas and Virgin Australia are extending their capacity cope with the demand for New Zealand holidays and business trips.