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Chinese tourism, student numbers reach record levels in Australia
Chinese tourists and tertiary students are fast becoming one of Australia's most important sources of income, as visitors continue to flock to Australia in record numbers.
Recent data compiled by Tourism Research Australia (TRA) has highlighted the unprecedented growth of Chinese visitor numbers to Australia -- and the impact that is having on the local economy.
According to statistics published in The Guardian Australia on Thursday, overall short-term international visitors to Australia grew by 11 percent in 2015 compared to 2014 -- thanks to a 35 percent rise in tourists coming from China.
In January of this year, 102,700 Chinese tourists touched down in Australia compared to 76,100 in January 2015.
Since emerging as a tourism powerhouse in the early-2000s, China has risen to second on the list of most overseas arrivals in Australia, surpassing Japan, the United States, and Britain in the last eight years alone.
New Zealanders remain the No.1 tourism nationality, but the current upward trend of Chinese visitors will likely result in China soon becoming the number one place of origin for those arriving in Australia.
Not only that, the TRA statistics revealed Chinese tourists were by far the biggest spenders while visiting Australia, pouring almost 4.7 billion U.S. dollars into the economy annually, compared to the next biggest spenders -- those from Britain -- who spent 1.63 billion U.S. dollars in Australia in 2015.
New Zealanders spent even less -- just 1.35 billion U.S. dollars -- despite coming to Australia in greater numbers than tourists from China.
The reasons for Chinese visitors spending more is due to the diverse nature of their visits, with only 54 percent of all Chinese visitors coming to Australia for a holiday. Many young Chinese pursue a secondary-school, or tertiary, education.
The TRA data revealed that China provides Australia with the highest percentage of visitors who come to gain an education -- a major reason why they spend more money than those from Britain or from New Zealand.
The average overseas arrival spends 13,250 U.S. dollars on education in Australia, compared to just 1,900 U.S. dollars spent on a holiday.
While 14 percent of all Chinese visitors are here to study, just 2 percent of New Zealanders are chasing an education.
Chinese visitors are only expected to become more vital to Australia's future economic success, with opportunities in education and business to open up thanks to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), while the falling Australian dollar continues to be an enticing reason for holidaymakers to head down under.
But it's not a new phenomenon. Simultaneously as the mining boom began to slow and Australia's economic forecasters were predicting doom, Australia managed to avoid any damaging effects of a slowing economy thanks in part to the meteoric rise of China's middle class.
At the start of 2012 -- considered by many to be the beginning of the end of the mining boom in Australia -- 48,000 Chinese visitors were coming to Australia every month. The latest figures place more than 100,000 Chinese tourists in Australia every month.
According to the TRA statistics, the economic benefits for Australia from encouraging Chinese tourists will only increase with time. In 2005, 35,695 Chinese students came to Australia to study, while in 2015 that number had jumped by almost 400 percent to 126,834.
The almost exponential upward trend in also expected to continue for those coming to Australia for a holiday; before the end of the year, China is expected to pass New Zealand as Australia's biggest source of tourism overall.
The low Australian dollar will only heighten the effect, with Australia consistently looking more enticing for overseas visitors.
  Source: Ecns

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