Chinese, Indian tourists to Australia tripled in last decade

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia's strong dollar has done little to dampen its popularity with Chinese and Indian visitors, with tourist numbers from those countries tripling in the past decade, data showed Wednesday.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said there were 630,000 visits from Chinese tourists in 2012 compared with 190,000 in 2002. Indian visits went from 45,000 to 160,000 in the same period.

"Despite a high Australian dollar, Australia's short-term visitor numbers were up by nearly five percent since 2011 with 6.1 million short trips made to Australia - 270,000 more than we saw in 2011," said Mr Neil Scott, the bureau's assistant director of demography.

Neighbouring New Zealand was Australia's largest source of visitors, accounting for 1.2 million trips or one in five visitors, but China had overtaken Britain, the United States and Japan to bag the number two spot.

One in ten visitors to Australia was now from China, Mr Scott said, with Asia now accounting for seven of the top ten source territories.

Japan was number five, with 5.8 per cent of total visits, followed by Singapore (5.6 per cent) Malaysia (4.3 per cent), South Korea (3.2 per cent), Hong Kong (2.9 per cent) and India (2.6 percent) at number 10.

More than two thirds of Australia's short-term visitors came to holiday or visit friends and family, and the peak age group was 25 to 29 years old. The average stay was 11 days.

New Zealand was the destination of choice for travelling Australians, accounting for 13.4 per cent of all overseas trips.

Indonesia ranked second at 11.1 per cent followed by the US (10.5 per cent), Thailand (7.6 per cent), Britain (6.0 per cent), China (4.6 per cent), Fiji (4.0 per cent), Singapore (3.7 per cent), Malaysia (3.2 per cent) and Hong Kong (2.8 per cent).

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