Why the world loves Australia: what’s behind the 50% jump in visitor numbers?

There has been a boom in the number of people travelling to Australia, with arrivals surging more than 50 per cent in just six years, according to statistics from Tourism Research Australia (TRA).

In 2011, just 5.3 million international visitors flew to the Land Down Under, a number that by 2017 had grown to an impressive 8.1 million overseas travellers.  

Famed for its spectacular natural landscapes, Australia is so vast its longest internal flight time is an impressive five hours and 15 minutes. It can be quicker to get from New York to London than from Broome to Sydney on flagship airline Qantas.

But despite its size, almost 50 per cent of all of international visitors make a beeline straight for the famous harbour city of Sydney, followed by Melbourne (34 per cent) and Brisbane (16 per cent) – the gateway to the north and the spectacular Great Barrier Reef.

So what’s behind this incredible boom in tourism? It appears in part to be a result of the rise of the of the Chinese traveller. Residents of the Asian country have caught the travel bug, with a staggering 1,380 per cent rise in overseas trips since the millennium.

When breaking down the statistics to see where travellers are flocking from, China has equalled neighbouring New Zealand, who have long held the crown as the greatest lovers of Australia. Each of the countries accounted for 15.4 per cent of Australia’s international tourism statistics, followed by the USA (8.9 per cent) and the UK (7.9 per cent).

The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s most famous natural attractions

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Year-on-year increases also provide some surprising insight into the nation’s visitor statistics. The number of travellers arriving from New Zealand increased by just 1 per cent from 2016 to 2017, 2.4 per cent from the UK and 12.2 per cent from China. But it’s India that takes the crown as the most recent nation to fall in love with the varied landscapes of Australia, with an impressive 15.4 per cent increase in travellers.

Lucia Widdop, form Austravel, a specialist in tailor-made holidays to Australia, elaborated. “What is behind this growth? In a word? Asia,” she said. “Only this week, Australia’s Bureau of Statistics reported that the country saw a record number of Chinese tourists – just under 1.4 million – in the year to February 2018. This means that Chinese tourists now outnumber New Zealand tourists – who had long been Australia’s biggest tourist nation.

“What’s more, India is predicted to leap 21.1 per cent – from 278,000 visitors in 2016/17 to 337,000 in 2018/19. Japan should also see a rapid increase, with an anticipated rise from 15.1per cent – from 427,000 visitors in 2016/17 to 492,000 in 2018/19.”

It would seem that the boom in Australia’s tourism industry is only set to continue, with a projected influx of around 9.7 million visitors for 2018/19.

Almost 50 per cent of all of international visitors arrive into Sydney

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And though the UK’s contribution to the figures isn’t as impressive as Asia’s, we are as much in love with Australia as we always have been – in spite of the decrease in the value of the pound.

Last year saw the number of Britons visiting the land down under reach more than 730,000 – the highest number in nearly a decade. Denise von Wald, Tourism Australia Regional General Manager for the UK and Northern Europe, told Telegraph Travel: “The sky-high UK arrivals figures show what we already knew – that Australia is one of the world’s most desirable destinations for both UK holidaymakers and travellers across the globe.”

“The spike in UK arrivals reflects a growing global interest in Australia’s unique landscapes, exotic wildlife and world-leading food and wine scene. We believe UK arrivals will only continue to grow as the new non-stop flight between London and Perth continues to make it easier than ever for British travellers to reach Australia’s shores in record time.”

We’re also fans of the quirky country’s advertising. Earlier this year, Crocodile Dundee returned to our screens in spoof film trailer by Tourism Australia. Starring American actor Danny McBride as Mick Dundee’s son, Brian alongside popular Australian actor Chris Hemsworth (famed for his portrayal of Thor in the Marvel films) as Wally Jr, the trailer poked fun at the classic 80s film that lead to a huge influx of travellers to Australia.

The comedic yet effective advert also saw a number of guest appearances from some of the world’s most famous Aussies, including Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman, Liam Hemseworth, Ruby Rose, Jessica Mauboy, Luke Bracey, and of course, the original Mick Dundee, Paul Hogan.

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