China, India drive Australia's best tourism year since Sydney Olympics

A tourist visiting the Sydney Opera House on Sept 2, 2015.
A tourist visiting the Sydney Opera House on Sept 2, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - A boom in cashed-up visitors from China and India has helped Australia record its strongest tourism year since the Sydney Olympics, officials said on Wednesday (Sept 2), with more than A$33 billion (S$33 billion) pumped into the economy.

The government-run Tourism Research Australia's International Visitor Survey showed that 7 per cent more people made the trip in the year to June 30 to reach a new high of 6.6 million - the best since the hugely successful Games were held in 2000.

Tourists from China jumped 22 per cent to 864,000. They also spent big, contributing A$7 billion, a 32 per cent spike, to account for around A$1 of every A$5 spent by international visitors during the year.

Tourists from the United States (544,000) and New Zealand (1.2 million) also rose, while those from Britain and Japan remained steady.

India was one of the fastest growing markets, boosted in part by Australia co-hosting the Cricket World Cup with New Zealand, with 207,000 people making the trip, up 20 per cent, and their spending surpassing A$1 billion for the first time.

"Tourism can be our fastest growing sector this decade if we continue to leverage our 'clean, green and safe' brand to position ourselves as the number one, long-haul destination in Asia," Trade Minister Andrew Robb said.

"With China now accounting for one in every five dollars spent by international visitors, it is clear that China is vital to the sustained growth of our tourism sector."

New South Wales, home to Sydney, was the most visited state, followed by Victoria and Queensland.