The number of Chinese tourists visiting Down Under has tripled during the past decade, despite the strong Australian dollar, new figures show.
While New Zealanders were the No.1 source of international tourists in 2012 - accounting for one in five visitors - official data shows that more travellers are increasingly coming from emerging Asian economies.
China last year leapfrogged the UK for second place, accounting for 10.2 per cent of Australia's international tourism market compared with 6.3 per cent in 2007.
During the same period, UK arrivals fell from 12.2 per cent to 9.7 per cent.
The world's most populous nations, China and India, are also becoming more affluent, with their numbers visiting Down Under tripling between 2002 and 2012, the Australian Bureau of Statistics says.
This occurred even as the Australian dollar held parity with the US greenback for most of last year.
Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy says tourism operators are increasingly marketing to travellers in Asia's tiger economies.
"2012 was a year of transition for our industry, as we continue to adapt to the Asian century and the enormous opportunities provided by the region's fast emerging and increasingly mobile middle classes," he said in a statement.
Despite the expense of travelling to Australia, inbound tourism numbers rose by 4.6 per cent last year to 6.1 million, with Chinese visitor numbers rising by 15.5 per cent.
Australian Tourism Export Council managing director Felicia Marian said that while the UK had lost its No.2 position, it would be a major source of tourism in 2013.
THE INCREASING IMPACT OF ASIAN VISITORS:
- Chinese visitors jumped from 190,000 in 2002 to 630,000 in 2012.
- In the same period, Indian visitor numbers rose from 45,000 to 160,000.
- China's share of tourism has increased by 3.9 percentage points in five years, to 10.2 per cent.
- India made the top 10 in 2012.em International tourism was up by 270,000 visitors last year.
- NSW was the most popular travel spot, followed by Queensland and Victoria.
- Eleven days is the average time spent in Australia.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics