Australian tourism facts
- 9.2 million international visitors to Australia in 2018
- $41.3 billion total international visitor spend in Australia in 2017
- 1004 people arrive into Australia every hour
- 1.4 million travellers from New Zealand arrived in Australia in 2017
- New Zealand was the most popular outbound travel destination for Australians in 2017
How many tourists visit Australia each year?
In 2018, approximately 9.2 million tourists visited Australia from overseas . This marked a 5.2% increase from 2017, when 8.8 million tourists visited Australia from overseas . In 2019, this figure is projected to grow to over 10 million overseas visitors .
Between 2007 and 2009, there was a very slight decrease in international visitors to Australia. Since 2009, Australia has seen a steady increase in international arrivals, with dramatic growth observed every year from 2012 onwards. This growth is expected to continue with projections estimating the number of international visitors to Australia will increase to 15 million by 2026-2027 .
International visitors by country
Where do the majority of Australia’s tourists come from? Currently, the top six countries people visit Australia from are: China, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Singapore. Each country’s visits are up on the previous year’s visits, with China experiencing the highest growth with an increase of 12% from 2016 .
Arrivals by country
Chinese tourists spent $10.4 billion while in Australia in 2017. The main purpose for travelling to Australia was for holidays. 679,354 visitors came to Australia for holiday purposes. The most popular destinations were Sydney with 62%, Melbourne with 50%, and the Gold Coast with 25% of visitors. China has a population of 1.38 billion people meaning that less than 1% of their population visited Australia in 2017 .
Tourists from New Zealand spent $2.5 billion in Australia in 2017. The main purpose for travelling to Australia was for holidays. 484,494 tourists came to Australia for holiday purposes. The most popular destinations were Sydney with 31%, Melbourne with 27%, and the Gold Coast with 18% of visitors. New Zealand has a population of 4.69 million people meaning that around 29% of the population visited Australia in 2017 .
United States of America
Visitors from the United States of America spent $3.8 billion in 2017. The main purpose for travelling to Australia was holidays. 343,325 visitors came to Australia for holiday purposes. The most popular destinations were Sydney with 62%, Melbourne with 32%, and tropical north Queensland with 16% of visitors. The United States has a population of 325.7 million people meaning that only 0.2% of their population visited Australia in 2017 .
Tourists from the United Kingdom spent $3.5 billion in Australia in 2017. The main purpose for travelling to Australia was visiting friends/family. 311,935 tourists came to Australia to visit their friends and family. The most popular destinations were Sydney with 55%, Melbourne with 32%, and Perth with 21% of visitors. The United Kingdom has a population of 65.64 million people, meaning that 1.2% of their population visited Australia in 2017 .
Japanese tourists spent $1.6 billion while in Australia in 2017. The main purpose for travelling to Australia was for holidays. 272,237 travellers came to Australia for holiday purposes. The most popular destinations were Sydney with 42%, tropical north Queensland with 29%, and Melbourne with 50% of visitors. The population of Japan is 127 million people, meaning that 0.3% of their population visited Australia in 2017 .
Visitors from Singapore spent $1.4 billion while in Australia in 2017. The main purpose for travelling to Australia was for holidays. 216,977 tourists came to Australia for holiday purposes. The most popular destinations were Melbourne with 35%, Sydney with 30%, and Perth with 27% of visitors. The population of Singapore is 5.6 million people, meaning that 7.8% of their population visited Australia in 2017 .
States that are home to major cities and well-known landmarks consistently attract more international visitors each month. Incoming international visits also correlate with states that have the highest populations in Australia. Every state except Western Australia saw an increase in visitors from 2016 to 2017. These figures indicate that international tourists are visiting more than one state per visit with 11.8 million visits recorded in total, 3 million visits more than the recorded incoming international visits for 2017.
International arrivals by state
New South Wales
There was a total of 4.2 million international visitors to New South Wales in the 2017 calendar year. The total spend in New South Wales was $10.4 billion which accounted for 25% of all dollars spent in Australia for the year. International tourists spent a total of 94.4 million nights in New South Wales, which made up 35% of all nights spent in Australia .
How many tourists visit Sydney each year?
The vast majority of tourists to New South Wales are visiting Sydney. In 2018, 10.67 million domestic tourists and 4.05 million international tourists visited Sydney .
There was a total of 2.9 million international visitors to Victoria in the 2017 calendar year. The total spend in Victoria was $7.7 billion which accounted for 18.6% of all dollars spent in Australia for the year. International tourists spent a total of 66.2 million nights in Victoria, which made up 25% of all nights spent in Australia .
How many tourists visit Melbourne each year?
Melbourne is one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations. In 2017, 9.3 million domestic overnight tourists and 2.7 million international overnight tourists visited Melbourne .
There was a total of 2.7 million international visitors to Queensland in the 2017 calendar year. The total spend in Queensland was $5.3 billion which accounted for 13% of all dollars spent in Australia for the year. International tourists spent a total of 53.1 million nights in Queensland, which made up 20% of all nights spent in Australia .
There was a total of 950,000 international visitors to Western Australia in the 2017 calendar year. The total spend in Western Australia was $2.2 billion which accounted for 5% of all dollars spent in Australia for the year. International tourists spent a total of 26 million nights in Western Australia, which made up 10% of all nights spent in Australia .
There was a total of 462,000 international visitors to South Australia in the 2017 calendar year. The total spend in South Australia was $1.15 billion which accounted for 3% of all dollars spent in Australia for the year. International tourists spent a total of 10.8 million nights in South Australia, which made up 4% of all nights spent in Australia .
There was a total of 293,000 international visitors to the Northern Territory in the 2017 calendar year. The total spend in the Northern Territory was $467 million which accounted for 1.1% of all dollars spent in Australia for the year. International tourists spent a total of 3.7 million nights in the Northern Territory, which made up 1.4% of all nights spent in Australia .
There was a total of 279,000 international visitors to Tasmania in the 2017 calendar year. The total spend in Tasmania was $497 million which accounted for 1.2% of all dollars spent in Australia for the year. International tourists spent a total of 4.8 million nights in Tasmania, which made up 1.8% of all nights spent in Australia .
There was a total of 242,000 international visitors to the ACT in the 2017 calendar year. The total spend in the ACT was $547 million which accounted for 1.3% of all dollars spent in Australia for the year. International tourists spent a total of 5 million nights in the ACT, which made up 2% of all nights spent in Australia .
International visitors to Australia by month
The summer months of December, January, and February attracted the most visitors to the country with a combined total of 2,511,300 international visitors in 2017. The warmer weather combined with popular seasonal sporting events are major factors in high international arrivals during the summer. Autumn was the quietest season for international visitors to Australia, with only 2,051,600 people coming into the country in March, April, and May. Each month experienced growth on the monthly arrivals from 2016 except for February which saw a decrease of 1.4% in arrivals.
International arrivals by month
Average duration of visits
The average length of trips to Australia has decreased over the past decade. In 2009, the average international trip to Australia lasted 35 nights. In 2017, the average international trip to Australia lasted 33 nights. Holidays and backpacker trips have decreased over the same time period, while the average stay for categories like visiting friends and family and employment have increased. While the total number of visitor nights in Australia have risen from 176,589,264 to 265,223,580 since 2009, this is the result of the increase in traffic rather than an increase in duration of stay .
Out of the top six countries for international visitors, only Japan saw an increase in the average duration of trips from 2009. The average stay in 2009 for Japanese tourists was 22 nights, which increased to 28 nights in 2017. Chinese tourists had the longest trips to Australia in both 2009 (54 nights) and 2017 (42 nights). In contrast, tourists from Singapore spent the least amount of time here with an average of 21 nights in 2009 and only 15 nights in 2017 .
Only New Zealand saw a decrease in the total number of nights spent in Australia from 2009, with the total dropping from 13,256,850 nights in 2009 to 12,863,240 nights in 2017. Chinese tourists saw the greatest increase in the total nights spent in Australia, with 18,507,311 nights in 2009 and a total of 52,444,180 nights in 2017 .
Australia vs global
Australia’s isolation from the other continents makes it a difficult destination for travellers living in the northern hemisphere. Australia is ranked 40th in the world for number of incoming international visitors . The long distances and cost of flights can act as a deterrent to people wishing to visit Australia from the northern hemisphere. The abundance of cheaper travel destinations around Australia such as Indonesia and Thailand also affect the number of tourists coming into the country.
Most visited destinations in 2016 
|#2||United States||75.6 Million|
Australian outbound tourism statistics
In 2017, Australian residents undertook 9,118,000 outbound international trips. 5,115,000 of those trips were for holidaying purposes, while 4,003,000 trips were for other purposes such as visiting relatives and business trips . Outbound international trips have nearly doubled in the past decade, increasing from 5,143,000 total trips in 2008.
Indonesia has seen the greatest increase in outbound trips in the last decade, from 287,000 trips in 2008 to over 1 million trips in 2017. The UK saw the smallest increase in outbound trips over the past ten years with only an extra 123,000 trips from Australian residents from 2008 to 2017 .
Most popular destinations for outbound Australians in 2017
Australia is home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks and attractions. Visitors to Australia are more motivated than ever by social media to visit popular and well-known landmarks and attractions on their trips. Some of the most popular sites include :
The Sydney Opera House
The Opera House is synonymous with Sydney as a city. The uniqueness of the design of the Opera House has seen the building declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 8.2 million people visit the site every year. The building is home to theatres, studios, a concert hall, exhibition rooms and a cinema, however most tourists are only interested in the exterior design of the building.
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is considered to be one of the largest living structures in the world and is listed as a World-Heritage site. Visible from outer space, the reef is home to over 3000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays and mangrove islands. Over 2 million tourists a year come to experience the reef via snorkeling, scuba-diving, glass-bottomed boats and seaplanes.
Another World Heritage site, Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock) is situated in the Uluru-kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory. The red monolith is 348 meters high and is the number one destination for those travelling through the outback, with over 300,000 visitors each year. Sunrise and sunset are particularly popular times for visits as the colours of the rock and surrounding area are transformed by the changing light.
Home to one of the oldest surf life saving clubs in the world, Bondi Beach is an iconic Australian beach known for its prime location to the city centre and fantastic views. The beach is home to many cultural events that take place throughout the year and is close to a variety of cafes, restaurants and other beachside attractions. Over 1 million visitors make their way to the beach each year.
How much money does Australia make from tourism?
Given these statistics, it should come as little surprise that tourism is a lucrative industry in Australia. In 2016-17, tourism in Australia accounted for 3.2% of the national GDP, contributing $54.7 billion to the Australian economy. The means that tourism GDP grew at a faster rate than the national economy. Of this, 27% came from international visitors to Australia while 73% came from domestic tourism .
Travel around Australia before the invention of the rail was slow and laborious, with many people only travelling for their trades or to pursue new opportunities and settlements. Australia saw an increase in international travel after The Great Depression, with the first cruises between New Zealand and Australia organised in 1934 . Australia then experienced an international tourism boom with the rise in commercial international flights in the 1960’s. In the past two decades international tourism has experienced significant growth, with the number of visitors doubled, rising from 2.5 million in 1992, to 8.8 million in 2017   .
Projections for the future
Tourism Australia estimates that in 2026-2027 there will be a 50% increase in $ spent in Australia on tourism which equates to roughly $151.4 billion, 15 million international visitors and 14.8 million outbound trips from Australian residents . By 2020, Tourism Australia expects to see over $115 billion in overnight spent. It is anticipated that Chinese tourism will grow to 25.7% share of the market while tourism from New Zealand, the US, UK and Singapore will all experience below average visitor growth .
Summary of Australian tourism facts
Tourism is Australia’s largest services export industry. Australia’s proximity to Asia, natural assets and high standard of living make it a desirable holiday location for those travelling overseas. The international tourism industry is on the rise with transportations means becoming faster and more comfortable.