19 July 2018

Tourism boost as growing number of international visitors take in national capital

| Ian Bushnell
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Parliament House is a major attraction. Photo: Jack Mohr.

The ACT is leading the way in the growth in international visitors to Australia with the Territory welcoming a record number for the year ending March 2018, according to the latest figures from Tourism Research Australia.

The International Visitor Survey showed a 15.8 per cent surge in the number of international overnight visitors, led by China and increasing to 248,428, with more staying longer in the national capital and spending more money.

The length of time they stayed jumped by a record 20.9 per cent to an average 22 days, and the amount spent rose 16.3 per cent to $607 million, from $522 million the previous year. The number of visitor nights increased from 4,547,000 to 5,499,000.

In a boon for the ACT’s hotels, the number staying in commercial accommodation jumped 22 per cent, from 123,000 to 150,000, with visitor nights increasing by 34 per cent to 2,872,000 compared with 2,143,000 the previous year.

They stayed an average of 19 nights, up from 17 the previous year, and spent 31 per cent more, up from $303 million to 397 million.

However, the number of backpackers visiting Canberra slumped in the year to 31 March 2018, dropping 6.6 per cent to 31,000, down from 33,000 the previous year.

They stayed longer, with the average visitor nights increasing to 22 from 19, but backpackers spent 20 per cent less than the previous year, $53 million, down from $66 million.

The survey did not list the purpose of international travellers’ visits to Canberra due to concerns about the quality of data supplied by the Department of Home Affairs. Tourism Research Australia will release revised estimates once these issues are resolved.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said in a statement that the results demonstrated that the Government’s international engagement activities and efforts to attract direct flights was helping to grow the local tourism industry.

He said Singapore Airlines’ move to daily flights from May, as well as the commencement of Qatar Airways’ flights earlier this year, was a signal of international confidence in Canberra.

The ACT Government was continuing to engage with new airlines, including Hong Kong Airlines, Air New Zealand and China Southern Airlines.

The survey showed that China remained Canberra’s largest source market at 18.4 per cent of international visitors followed by the United States of America (9.5 per cent), United Kingdom (8.9 per cent), New Zealand (7.1 per cent) and India (4.8 per cent).

“The ACT Government continues to work towards its goal of growing the ACT’s overnight visitor expenditure to $2.5 billion by 2020, supporting our local tourism industry that employs over 16,000 Canberrans,” Mr Barr said.

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Great news for the national capital which is becoming a tourist hot-spot, especially across Asia. Tourist numbers will take off even further if the ACT’s bid for direct international flights from China is successful!

Capital Retro12:08 pm 20 Jul 18

Great opportunity for the government to impose a “bed tax” on all the hotels who are doing well. That way, the whole community benefits from the tourist boom.

These tourists are elusive – apart from the odd couple, I never see large groups at the main tourist spots around Canberra.

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