Specifically highlighting quarterly international figures for what appears to be the first time, data from the first three months of 2023 shows the number of international trips was 1.5 million or 92 per cent of March 2020 levels, while nights spent in Australia by international visitors numbered 63.7 million – 98 per cent of the quarter in which Australia first shut its international border.
For the year to March 2023 – the first full year that Australia has had an open border – spend in Australia was at $18.3 billion or 64 per cent of the spend for the year to March 2020, nights spent in Australia were 171 million or 67 per cent of pre-COVID levels – indicating trip length has increased – while the number of trips to Australia by international visitors was 4.6 million or 58 per cent of the year to March 2020.
The data shows that business travel makes up the same proportion of trips as in March 2020, although spend for business travel is up significantly – the number of trips is at 57 per cent of March 2020 levels, however spend is at 78 per cent of March 2020 levels – $1.5 billion.
For the year to March, New Zealand remains Australia’s top visitor market, followed by the UK, the US, India and Singapore. Visitors from the UK were the biggest spenders, contributing 1.6 million to Australia’s economy, while visitors from New Zealand, America and India all contributed $1.3 billion each.
In terms of the quarterly result for January to March, the surge in visitation may be influenced by the return of the Chinese market, after restrictions were eased in China allowing international travel again, however Chinese travel appears to only have recovered marginally, with figures for the year to December showing visitation from China was 93 per cent below December 2019 levels, while March results put visitation figures at 86 per cent below March 2020 levels – bearing in mind Australia shut its border to travellers from China at the start of February 2020, which will impact on comparison figures.
However Victoria’s state government has flagged that Chinese visitors have returned in force in Q1, with China regaining top spot as the number one international market for the state.