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Record inbound migration and Aussie travellersTourism
Tourism arrivals fall: Tourist arrivals fell by 1.9 per cent to 756,300 in April, down from downwardly-revised record high of 770,800 (previously 771,600) in March. Departures rose by 1.3 per cent in April to a record high of 923,400, up from 911,200 in March.
Record overseas arrivals: Over the past year a record 800,240 permanent and long-term migrants moved to Australia, up by 4.0 per cent.
Aussies head overseas on holiday: A record breaking 923,500 holidaymakers travelled overseas in April, up by 1.3 per cent.
Record Chinese and Indian tourists: Over the past year a record 1,419,500 tourists came to Australia from China, up by 12.9 per cent over the year. Tourists from India totalled 324,500 visitors over the past year – a record high – up 18.6 per cent over the year. 
What does it all mean?
Australia is a great place to live. It’s a welcoming, vibrant and multi-cultural society with a sublime environment. The economy is picking-up, jobs are being created and interest rates are at record lows.
Migrants continue to flock Down Under in hope of a better life. Job shortages are emerging in some sectors of the economy. Skilled foreign workers can fill the gap if there are insufficient applicants domestically. The number of permanent and long-term migrants moving to Australia reached record highs in April.
Australia’s services sector is on a tear. Income from tourism and education are growing on strong Chinese and Indian demand. The AiGroup survey of services-related activity is at its strongest level in over 13 years.
Overseas visitors are heading Down Under in their droves. While the April numbers were a little weaker overall, Australia continues to attract a record number of Chinese and Indian tourists.
Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe recently highlighted in a speech to the Australia-China Relations Institute that there were more than 15,000 direct flights annually between Australia and China, operated by 15 airlines. The number of Chinese visitors has grown by over one million people from a decade ago.
And the number of Indian tourists look set to grow even further. Tourism Australia is seeking to capitalise on the country’s bumper economic growth (+7.7 per cent per annum in the March quarter).
The ‘Great Australian Airfare Sale’ was launched by Tourism Australia a few days ago with online travel agents’ MakeMyTrip, Golbibo and Yatra featuring seat sales from Scoot, Air Asia, Air India, Jet Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas Airways, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways. More visitors means more income for our retailers and hotels. And the Indian test cricketers are touring later this year. 
The Aussie dollar is down almost 8 per cent against the greenback since late January, but that’s not discouraging Aussies from heading overseas on holiday. Aussies have the travel bug. In April a record number travelled abroad.
What do the figures show?Overseas arrivals & departures
Tourist arrivals fell by 1.9 per cent to 756,300 in April, down from downwardly-revised record high of 770,800 (previously 771,600) in March.
Departures rose by 1.3 per cent in April to a record high of 923,400, up from 911,200 in March.
Arrivals are up 0.6 per cent on the year – the slowest growth rate in 3½ years. Departures up by 5.5 per cent.
The annual number of permanent and long-term overseas arrivals rose to a record high 800,240 in April, up by 4.0 per cent over the year.
In April, tourists from Greater China (China and Hong Kong) totalled 143,900 (mainland China 119,600; Hong Kong 24,300), ahead of New Zealand (112,500).
In April, tourist arrivals hit record highs from: France, Norway, Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Brazil.
China is the largest source of tourists to Australia. Over the past year a record 1,419,500 tourists came to Australia from China, up by 12.9 per cent over the year.
Tourists from New Zealand totalled 1,364,200 visitors over the past year, but were up just 0.9 per cent.
A record 324,500 Indian tourists travelled to Australia over the year to April, up by 18.6 per cent over the year.
Over the year to April, the number of US visitors rose by 6.1 per cent to 795,600 tourists.
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?
Tourism remains a bright spot of the Aussie economy. According to SEEK, hospitality and tourism job ads are up by 12 per cent over the year to May.
While the April data was a little softer, numbers may pick-up in May-June. The Sydney Vivid festival concluded over the weekend. And what a success it’s been. According to the NSW government, around two million people are expected to have visited the Emerald City during the lighting extravaganza, including 30,000 Chinese visitors. Last year, Vivid-related tourism generated $150 million for the NSW economy.
And Sydney hotels posted record numbers of guests in May according to Smith Travel Research (STR) Global. Over the year to May, demand increased by 5.6 per cent and the occupancy rate grew by 2.3 per cent (to 84.3 per cent).
CommSec expects official interest rates to be stable until early 2019.
Published by Ryan Felsman, Senior Economist, CommSec