How many Chinese tourists visit Australia each year?
Over 207,600 Chinese tourists visited Australia for the year ending December 2020
Visitors from mainland China were down 85.5% when compared with the over 1.4 million visitors of the previous year.
Prior to 2020, China had been the leading source of visitors to Australia for two years in a row.
How many Chinese tourists visited Australia in 2019?
Over 1,430,000 Chinese tourists visited Australia in 2019 (12 months from July 2018 to June 2019). The number of visitors from China increased fourfold since 2009 when the total was 355,200 for the year.1
Impact of the Coronavirus on Chinese Tourist Expenditure
Chinese Tourists spent a total of $ 8.4 billion during trips to Australia for the year ending June 2020
Spending was down 29.4% when compared with the $11.9 billion of the previous year
Due to a larger spend on education, Chinese visitors have historically been the highest spenders during visits to Australia
Growth in Chinese visits to Australia
The majority of growth in Chinese visitors has occurred in the last decade and is driven to a significant degree by a steady increase in the number of Chinese students in Australia.
In 2017/18, China became the top source of international visitors to Australia, overtaking New Zealand.
The potential for further growth is still significant since, as of 2019, only 13% of Chinese residents owned passports, compared to 70% of New Zealand residents.
Chinese visitor growth slowed down in 2018/19. The number of Chinese tourists to Australia grew by only 0.8% that year, compared to 12.9% in 2017/18.
Why did Chinese visitor growth to Australia slow down in 2019?
The number of Chinese tourists to Australia grew by only 0.79% in 2018/19, compared to 12.9% annual growth in the previous year.
This slowdown has been attributed to:
a growing number of attractive alternative educational options for Chinese students, including New Zealand, UK and Canada.
Impact of Coronavirus Travel Ban in 2020
Visitors from mainland China were down 37% when compared with the 1.4 million visitors of the previous year
Chinese visitors were down by 34% year-on-year in January 2020. This could have been partly due to the coronavirus crisis in China – as a lockdown was imposed on the city of Wuhan from January 23. The Australian bushfire crisis and the Chinese New Year celebrations falling in January could have also had an impact on travel plans in the month.
In February 2020 visitors arriving from China decreased by 83% compared to the previous year (19,500 arrivals in February 2020 vs 116,900 visitors in February 2019).
The significant drop was the result of a coronavirus-related travel ban implemented by the Australian government on the 1 February for non-citizens travelling from or through China.
February in the past has historically been the peak period for Chinese visitors to Australia
It is estimated that more than half of the 200,000 Chinese students enrolled in Australian universities have been affected by the travel ban7
China's share in the Australian tourism industry
China and New Zealand together contribute over 30% of visitors to Australia.
Top countries that sent visitors to Australia in 2019
China's contribution to tourism expenditure in Australia
At $11.9 billion in 2018/19, China accounted for more than 26% of all expenditures from international tourists in 2018/19 — three times more than the next-largest Australian tourism spenders: Americans. 3
Top Chinese Travel Trends in 2019
What do Chinese tourists spend on in Australia?
When airfares are excluded, Chinese visitors spend the most per day in Australia, with above-average spending on education and shopping and slightly below-average spending on tours and transport.
China's Capability to Travel
Because of its sheer size and population, China is among the top international tourist sources for many countries, including Australia.
Between 2009 and 2018, Chinese travellers made over 1 billion international trips as per data from COTRI, of which 160 million trips were made in 2018 alone.
Around 13% (which translates to 180 million) of mainland residents have passports, making China the top potential source of international travellers.4
The low percentage is also indicative of the massive and unmatched future potential of China as a tourist source, as a much higher proportion of the population is expected to get passports in the coming years.
Chinese Travellers’ Top Destinations
As per available data from COTRI, the top 10 international destinations of Chinese travellers are Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, the US, Italy, and Malaysia.
Australia currently does not feature in the top 10 international destinations for the Chinese, yet earns its maximum tourism revenue from the Chinese.
A high proportion5 of Chinese international travellers have been travelling to Greater China (Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), but every year a growing number of tourists are choosing farther destinations.
Where Do Chinese Travellers Visit? Preferences within Australia
Chinese travellers have shown a clear preference for visiting and staying in major cities as opposed to country towns.
Around 10-15% of the Chinese were found to have among the lowest regional dispersal (in terms of % of nights spent), as per 2012-2017 statistics.
The three major reasons for this, as per a recent Tourism Research Australia report6, are: