Chinese tourism boom, migration at nine-year lows: CommSec's Savanth Sebastian

Chinese tourism boom, migration at nine-year lows: CommSec's Savanth Sebastian
Chinese tourism boom, migration at nine-year lows: CommSec's Savanth Sebastian

GUEST OBSERVER

Tourists from greater China (China and Hong Kong) totalled 108,400 in February (mainland China 89,100, Hong Kong, 19,300), ahead of New Zealand (102,600).

Tourist arrivals from mainland China and Hong Kong rose to a record 1,326,076 over the past year (up 23.5 percent over the year) and just shy of tourists from New Zealand (1,326,851 visitors over the past year).

Migration: Over the past year, net permanent and long-term arrivals to Australia totalled 259,710 – the lowest level in nine years (February 2007).

Tourist arrivals fell by 2.7 percent in February. And departures fell from fresh record highs down by 3.3 percent. The tourism data is important for airlines, travel groups, transport companies and retailers.

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Chinese tourism boom, migration at nine-year lows: CommSec's Savanth Sebastian

What does it all mean?

The China tourist boom continues to pay dividends. The number of tourists to Australia from China and Hong Kong combined exceeded well over 1.3 million in the past year – and is closing fast on the visitors from New Zealand. In fact the difference is only 775 tourists. And with China and Hong Kong tourist numbers continuing to grow at a 23 percent plus annual rate, there are more landmark results likely to be recorded over the next few months. It is even more remarkable when you consider that just over four years ago Chinese tourist numbers were around half those of New Zealand.

Clearly our number one tourist group is up for grabs with China and Hong Kong likely to take the top spot within a month. The new winners from the China boom are tourist operators and retailers rather than mining companies that benefitted in the first stage of the China boom.

Tourists from mainland China is fast closing in on 1.1 million in the past year, up 24 percent over the past year.

While some may fret about the slowdown in the Chinese industrial sector, the more forward-thinking analysts are focussing on the boost to Australian retailers from increased spending by Chinese consumers and the growing number of Chinese tourists.

The rebalancing continues to be taking place across the economy. No doubt the weaker Aussie dollar is helping to alleviate some of the pressures for the weaker investment story. And from the Reserve Bank’s standpoint there is nothing to do but to monitor the transitions to ensure that the process moves as smoothly as possible.

What do the figures show?

Overseas arrivals & departures

Tourist arrivals  fell by 2.7 pe cent in February. And departures  fell from fresh record highs down by 3.3 percent. Arrivals are up 5.9 percent on the year with departures up 1.7 per cent.

In February, tourists from greater China (China and Hong Kong) totalled 108,400 (mainland China 89,100, Hong Kong, 19,300), ahead of New Zealand (102,600). Greater China passed NZ for the first time in September.

Over the past year a record 1,076,800 tourists came to Australia from China, up 23.6 percent over the year. Tourists from China and Hong Kong rose to a record 1,326,076 over the past year, up 23.5 percent over the year. Tourists from New Zealand totalled 1,326,851 visitors over the past year, but were up just 6.6 percent.

Over the past year, net permanent and long-term arrivals  to Australia totalled 259,710 – the lowest level in nine years (February 2007).

What is the importance of the economic data?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics releases data on overseas arrivals and departures  is produced monthly and is an indicator of the health of the tourism sector. The figures are also useful in understanding spending trends and tracking migrant numbers – an indicator with widespread implications for employment, housing and spending.

What are the implications for interest rates and investors?

Looking forward, not only will the fall in the Aussie dollar drive further tourism inflows, but it should provide an additional degree of support to the domestic tourism sector. Over time, the cheaper currency should make it more attractive to travel within Australia rather than overseas. Tourism has potential to join housing as a key driver of the Australian economy over the coming year, especially if the Aussie dollar falls further.

In-bound migration is holding just shy of the lowest levels in nine years, meaning that there is greater scope for unemployment to fall in the short-term before businesses have to start looking abroad for suitable staff.

The Reserve Bank will remain on the interest rate sidelines over the next few months.

Click to enlarge

Chinese tourism boom, migration at nine-year lows: CommSec's Savanth Sebastian

Savanth Sebastian is an economist for CommSec 

Tags: 
China Immigration

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