Chinese tourist 'boom' and high migration numbers bode well for housing demand: CommSec's Craig James

The housing market is one of the sectors that will benefit from the "boom" in the number of Chinese tourists who visited Australia over the past 12 months as well as permanent migration numbers just off record highs, according to CommSec chief economist Craig James.

The latest ABS overseas arrivals and departure data shows that Chinese tourists were not put off by the high Australian dollar, with a record 56,600 visiting Australia over August – up 15.7% on a year ago for a 12-month total of 607,900.

James calls this "the other boom".

China is now Australia’s second biggest tourist market, having now overtaken the UK (48,700), with New Zealand (96,500) occupying top spot.

Putting this in to context, in 2000 about 100,000 Chinese visited Australia annually.

Overall tourist numbers were up 3.7% in August to 514,100 – also a record for data going back to 1976.

The same ABS data also shows that the number of “permanent arrivals” to Australia in the year to August was just below 160,000 and just off the record highs set in 2009.

“The surge in Chinese tourists to Australia together with the lift in migrant numbers to near-record levels are two key developments,” says James.

“Increased migration means greater demand for houses, cars and consumer durables.

“Rising Asian tourism injects valuable dollars into regional economies. Overall there is good news for housing and tourism-dependent businesses and regions,” he says.

James adds that the latest tourism figures should serve as a “wake-up call to those businesses that claim that they can’t operate with an Australian dollar perched above parity against the greenback”.

ABS figures showing that the number of Aussies travelling overseas for holidays or business fell by 0.2% in August after falling by 1.4% in July – only the second fall in six months.

In seasonally adjusted terms the tourism deficit – the gap between departures and arrivals – eased from a record 188,700 in July to 169,200 in August.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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