Chinese tourism is expected to keep growing in the Year of the Snake, after a big jump in 2012.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show a 15.5 per cent increase in Chinese tourists in the past 12 months.
Overall, Chinese visitor numbers have tripled over the past 10 years, from 190,000 visits in 2002 to 630,000 last year.
"New Zealand remains our biggest source of overseas short-term visitor arrivals with 1.2 million trips in 2012 or one in five visitors coming from there. But China is now in second place with one in 10, followed by the UK, the USA and Japan," said assistant deirector of demography, Neil Scott.
Queensland was the second-most popular destination after New South Wales, with one quarter of all visitors stopping in the Sunshine State.
Acting chief executive of Tourism and Transport Forum Trent Zimmerman confirmed that China was the standout in the burgeoning Asian market.
"There's strong growth in countries like Malaysia, Singapore and India, but China is streets ahead."
Mr Zimmerman said China's slower economy in recent years was not hindering a travel boom.
"One incredible fact is that this year 70 million Chinese people went overseas, and by 2020 that's going to grow to 100 million," he said.
"The rise of the middle class in China is something that is unstoppable."
Mr Zimmerman said in response to that, Australia's tourism industry had to become more culturally and linguistically sensitive to the needs of Chinese visitors.
"You see the major hotel chains already adapting to the new market," he said.