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Record Chinese and Indian touristsPetrol prices the highest in 2 monthsWeekly Petrol prices; Tourism; Domestic aviation
Petrol: According to the Australian Institute of Petroleum, the national average Australian price of unleaded petrol rose by 3.3 cents to 149.8 cents a litre in the past week – the highest level in two months.
Tourism: Tourist arrivals rose by 0.3 per cent to 765,900 in June, up from a downwardly revised 763,700 (previously 766,300) in May. Departures fell by 1.9 per cent in June to 918,600, down from a downwardly revised record high 936,400 (previously 938,800) in May.
Record Chinese and Indian tourists: Over the year to June a record 1,431,900 tourists came to Australia from China, up by 11.5 per cent. And a record 334,600 Indian tourists travelled to Australia over the year to June, up by 19.6 per cent.
Air traffic: According to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) there were 4.91 million passengers carried on Australian domestic commercial aviation (including charter operations) in June 2018, an increase of 0.2 per cent on June 2017.
Record airline passengers: A record 9.25 million passengers flew on the Sydney-Melbourne route in rolling annual terms in June. The load factor on the route was unchanged at 85 per cent. A record 4.79 million passengers flew on the Sydney-Brisbane route in rolling annual terms in June. And a record 515,801 passengers flew on the Melbourne – Sunshine Coast route in rolling annual terms in June. 
What does it all mean?
Tourism continues to be a money spinner for the Aussie economy. The number of holidaymakers heading Down Under from China and India’s growing middle classes reached fresh record highs in June. Data released by Tourism Research Australia last month showed that Chinese tourists spent $10.9 billion, accounting for 52 per cent of the total growth in international tourist spending over the year to March.
Tourism Australia continues to work hard to source visitors from our biggest trading partner in an ultra-competitive market. Earlier this month, they partnered with one of China’s top news and lifestyle content platforms, Q Daily, featuring a personality quiz that matched participants personalities and travel preferences with Australian animal characters. Once preferences were matched, budding tourists were directed to the website.
And in a sign that the Aussie economy is in good health, domestic air travel continues to lift, despite headwinds from rising jet fuel prices for airlines. Air fares for business (up 1 per cent), restricted economy (up 19.3 per cent) and best discount (up 14.2 per cent) classes have lifted over the year to August. But business travel between Sydney and Melbourne and holidays from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast are at record highs over the year to June.
Unleaded petrol prices are back near $1.50 a litre, the highest level in two months. Pump prices rose 10-12 cents a litre in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide last week. But prices peaked last week and are beginning to fall as the retail petrol price discounting cycle begins. And falling global crude prices could provide some respite in the weeks ahead.
Last week crude oil recorded its biggest loss in five weeks and its longest run of weekly declines in three years. Brent crude oil fell by 1.3 per cent to US$71.83 a barrel and the US Nymex price fell by 2.5 per cent to US$65.91 a barrel. Concerns over emerging market demand, increasing OPEC-Russia production and rising US inventories have pushed down crude oil prices from three-year highs in June.
What do the figures show?Petrol prices
According to the Australian Institute of Petroleum, the national average Australian price of unleaded petrol rose by 3.3 cents to 149.8 cents a litre in the past week – a two month high.
The metropolitan petrol price rose by 4.3 cents to 149.9 cents per litre and the regional price rose by 1.4 cents to 149.7 cents per litre. The gross retail margin increased by 2.6 cents to 14.30 cents.
Average unleaded petrol prices across states and territories over the past week were: Sydney (down by 6.8 cents to 145.8 c/l), Melbourne (up by 10.3 cents to 152.9 c/l), Brisbane (up 11.6 cents to 156.4 c/l), Adelaide (up by 12.3 cents to 144.8 c/l), Perth (down by 1.4 cents to 142.9 c/l), Darwin (down by 0.6 cents at 155.2 c/l), Canberra (unchanged at 152.8 c/l) and Hobart (flat at 158.5 c/l).
Today, the national average wholesale (terminal gate) unleaded petrol price stands at 135.9 cents a litre, up by 1.1 cents over the week. The terminal gate diesel price stands at 139.1 cents a litre, up by 0.9 cents over the past week.
The national average diesel petrol price rose by 0.2 cents to 152.0 cents a litre over the week. The metropolitan price rose by 0.4 cents to 152.0 cents a litre with the regional price flat at 152.0 cents a litre.
Last week the key Singapore gasoline price rose by US30 cents or 0.4 per cent to US$83.40 a barrel. In Australian dollar terms, the Singapore gasoline price rose by $1.28 or 1.1 per cent last week to $114.64 a barrel or 72.10 cents a litre.
MotorMouth records the following average retail prices for capital cities today: Sydney 140.9c; Melbourne 148.1c; Brisbane 152.6c; Adelaide 153.5c; Perth 135.2c; Canberra 152.6c; Darwin 155.3c; Hobart 158.5c.
Overseas arrivals & departures
Tourist arrivals rose by 0.3 per cent to 765,900 in June, up from a downwardly-revised 763,700 (previously 766,300) in May.
Departures fell by 1.9 per cent in June to 918,600, down from a downwardly revised record high 936,400 (previously 938,800) in May.
Arrivals are up 5.4 per cent on the year to June. And departures up by 5.7 per cent.
The annual number of permanent and long-term overseas arrivals rose to a record high 808,480 in June, up by 4.5 per cent over the year.
In June, tourists from Greater China (China and Hong Kong) totalled 143,800 (mainland China 117,600; Hong Kong 26,200), ahead of New Zealand (116,200).
China is the largest source of tourists to Australia. Over the past year a record 1,431,900 tourists came to Australia from China, up by 11.5 per cent.
Tourists from New Zealand totalled 1,371,400 visitors over the past year, up by 1.6 per cent.
A record 334,600 Indian tourists travelled to Australia over the year to June, up by 19.6 per cent.
Over the year to June, the number of US visitors rose by 3.1 per cent to 788,500 tourists.
Over the year to June, the number of UK visitors rose by 0.8 per cent to 733,800 tourists.
Air traffic
According to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) there were 4.91 million passengers carried on Australian domestic commercial aviation (including charter operations) in June 2018, an increase of 0.2 per cent on June 2017. For the month of June 2018 there were 53,253 aircraft trips, a decrease of 4.8 per cent compared to June 2017.
There were 4.72 million passengers carried on Regular Public Transport (RPT) flights in June 2018, an increase of 0.5 per cent on June 2017. For the year ending June 2018 there were 60.77 million RPT passengers, an increase of 2.5 per cent on the year ending June 2017.
RPT revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) performed were 5.50 billion for the month, up by 0.7 per cent compared with June 2017. Capacity, measured by available seat kilometres (ASKs), decreased by 0.8 per cent compared with June 2017 to a total of 7 billion.
With RPT passenger traffic increasing at a faster rate than capacity, the industry wide load factor (RPKs/ASKs) increased from 77.4 per cent in June 2017 to 78.6 per cent in June 2018.
For the month of June 2018, Melbourne-Sydney remained Australia’s busiest RPT route with 725,780 passengers, an increase of 0.6 per cent compared with June 2017. It was followed by Brisbane-Sydney with 383,912 passengers (up 0.4 per cent) and Brisbane-Melbourne with 281,817 passengers (up 0.8 per cent).
For the month of June 2018, the largest percentage increase in RPT passenger numbers, compared to June 2017, was on the Hamilton Island – Sydney route (up 20.9 per cent). There were large increases on a number of other routes, including Melbourne – Sunshine Coast (up 12.4 per cent), Adelaide – Perth (up 11.6 per cent) and Hobart – Sydney (up 11.0 per cent).  Conversely, the Brisbane-Proserpine route (down 11.7 per cent) suffered the largest decline in RPT passenger numbers over the year to June 2018. Large decreases also occurred on the Armidale – Sydney (down 9.1 per cent), Sydney – Tamworth (down 8.8 per cent) and Brisbane – Cairns (down 7.8 per cent).
Sydney remained Australia’s busiest domestic airport with 2.13 million passenger movements in June, followed by Melbourne with 1.99 million passenger movements and Brisbane with 1.37 million passenger movements.
Outside of the capital cities, there were 1.96 million domestic passenger movements through regional airports in June 2018, down 0.2 per cent from June 2017.
What is the importance of the economic data?
Weekly figures on petrol prices are compiled by ORIMA Research on behalf of the Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP). National average retail prices are calculated as the weighted average of each State/Territory’s metropolitan and non-metropolitan retail petrol prices, with the weights based on the number of registered petrol vehicles in each of these regions. AIP data for retail petrol prices is based on available market data supplied by MotorMouth.
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.
The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) releases data on domestic aviation each month. The data is useful in tracking consumer spending and airline performance.
What are the implications for interest rates and investors?
Enormous growth in tourism from China and India is benefiting Aussies with tourism spending increasing by 6 per cent over the year to March to $42.3 billion according to Tourism Research Australia. Now that’s serious coin. So it’s little wonder that the industry employs a whopping 925,000 people around the country. And escalating tensions between China and the US could boost the Aussie tourism industry. Mainland Chinese may prefer Australia (to the US) as a holiday destination in this environment.
And it’s not just international tourists driving stronger demand for new hotels, casinos and resorts. Domestic tourism is buoyant amid an improving economic backdrop, supported by robust business activity. And with the Aussie dollar down by over 6 per cent against the greenback this year, demand for holidays at home or interstate may be preferred during the summer holidays.
Petrol prices are elevated, despite falling crude oil prices. And diesel prices lifted for the first time in 10 weeks. Not ideal timing for our beleaguered farmers.
CommSec expects interest rates to be unchanged until late 2019.
Published by Ryan Felsman, Senior Economist, CommSec