The International Visitor Survey for the year ending March 2012 confirms in numbers what we knew already: regional areas are having a tough time!
The report reveals that regional areas received just 18% of spending by international visitors, down from 23% for the year ending March 2006. While overall spending by international tourists has risen 38% over that time, spending in the regions is up only 7%. The typical preference for Australia’s key inbound growth market, China, is for the cities as well, confirming that in order to boost regional areas, we really need to focus on domestic travelers.
New Zealand was still the largest source of visitors during the year ending March 2012 with just over a million visitors. The UK (577,526) is still ahead of China (530,293), which has overtaken the USA (433,283). China is already Australia’s largest source market in terms of economic value, worth $3.5bn, followed by UK ($2.6bn), New Zealand ($2.1bn) and the USA ($1.8 bn).
Among the capital cities and the Gold Coast, the highest expenditure was received by Sydney ($5.5bn), followed by Melbourne ($3.9bn), Perth ($1.7bn) and Brisbane ($1.5bn). In the regions, Tropical North Queensland received the highest expenditure ($792m), followed by the Sunshine Coast ($209m) and Hunter ($151m).
We should point out that whilst only 7% of visitors stated “education” as their main purpose, with an average stay of 141 (!) nights they represented 26% of all international visitor nights, and virtually none of these will have been spent in hotels and/or resorts. Another 25% of visitors came to visit friends and family (VFR), staying 28 nights on average, of which 83% in the home of a friend or relative. “Employment” accounted for a further 4% of visitors, staying 106 nights on average, of which 65% in in a rented house, apartment, flat or unit.
Only 22 million of a total of 197 million international visitor nights were spent in a hotel, resort, motel or motor inn, representing just over 11%.