Tourism records tumble with recovery in full effect


New figures released by Tourism Research Australia show the nation’s tourism rebound is in full effect with tourism spend up by 57 per cent to $108.3 billion in FY23.

Western Australia achieved its highest ever annual visitor spend, with $16.8 billion spent in the State by travellers in 2022-23, up from $13.5 billion pre-COVID.

WA’s tourism recovery has led to a spending increase of $3.3 billion, or 24 per cent, when compared to the 2019 pre-pandemic figure.

WA was the top performing state in the country in terms of international spend recovery welcoming 688,000 international visitors with $2 billion spend, just 15 per cent shy of the pre-COVD figure.

International visitors to WA represented 12.7 per cent of the overall international Australian travel market, the highest portion it has held since 2015.

“We continue to work hard to keep attracting major blockbuster and exclusive events like the WWE, Coldplay and the Matildas to WA, plus keep up the number of mass participation events we host around the calendar which bring people to WA and boost our local economy,” said WA Tourism Minister Rita Saffioti.

Queensland’s tourism industry reached a record $33.2 billion in overnight visitor spending in the last financial year, with more than three quarters (76%) of tourism dollars spent in regional Queensland.

Figures show Queensland also achieved a record spend by domestic business travellers in the last financial year.

Tropical North Queensland welcomed a record number of domestic visitors in the past year, as did the Gold Coast, while Mackay and Outback Queensland enjoyed record domestic visitor spending.

Tropical North Queensland also saw business visitation reach a record 542,000 visitors, up 43.6 per cent over the year and up 14.6 per cent compared to 2019.

The Sunshine Coast saw business travel grow 9.6 per cent to 244,000 visitors in 2022/23, still 32 per cent lower than in 2019.

Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel said business events inquiries were on the up and expects that business travel and conferences will return to 2019 levels by the end of 2024.

Townsville was a leader of the state’s international recovery, being the only region where visitation in the first half of 2023 exceeded pre-COVID-19 levels.

“Records continue to tumble as more visitors come to Queensland but we know that number can be even higher,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

“Airline prices shouldn’t be a barrier for people wanting to come and enjoy our beautiful state so I’d really love to see those providers bring their prices down.”

The Northern Territory saw a post-Covid record of $3 billion expenditure, the second highest annual expenditure ever, and welcomed 1.6 million visitors.

NT Tourism Minister Nicole Manison said the international visitor market was also starting to recover.

“It’s not quite where we want it to be nationally and in the Northern Territory, but we’re seeing positive growth,” she said.

“We’re seeing our great old friends from the US, the UK, Germany,. But for the first time we have also seen India in our top five visitors – a country of 1.4 billion people with huge people to people connections with the Northern Territory.”

South Australia posted an all-time high total visitor expenditure of $9.9 billion. SA Tourism Minister Zoe Bettison said strong growth in interstate and international expenditure over the year helped drive the increase of $3.8 billion in just 12 months.

“International expenditure in the state increased by 24 per cent in the last quarter alone, and is now worth $1 billion, just shy of its pre pandemic $1.2 billion,” she said.

“There is huge competition across the states and territories to get a bigger slice of the tourism pie.”