In welcome news for the beleaguered industry, which has been hit hard by the strong Australian dollar, the number of nights spent in Australia by overseas tourists has climbed 4 per cent.
However the overall number of international visitors last financial year rose by just 1 per cent to just over 5.5 million visitors.
The International Visitor Survey from Tourism Research Australia also found nearly 200 million visitor nights were spent in Australia during the year.
New Zealand was still the biggest market for the tourism sector, followed by Britain, China and the US.
China continues to be a star performer, with a 16 per cent jump in the number of its citizens deciding to take their holidays Down Under compared with the same time in the previous year.
Business travel was the strongest performing sector, up by 6 per cent, while holidays rose only 2 per cent. And although overseas tourists were willing to spend more time on their vacation, they were not as keen on opening their wallets, with spending up by only 2 per cent to $18.3 billion.
Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said Australia’s proximity to New Zealand would always make us a popular destination for business and leisure, while the rise in tourists from Asia was helping offset a fall in numbers from Europe and North America.
“This uncertainty is expected to continue in the short term due to the Australian dollar being at an all-time high against the euro, and persistent economic problems in Europe,” he said.
“However, it is encouraging to see signs of recovery in some traditional markets, with arrivals from the United States increasing by 5 per cent to the highest number recorded for a June quarter since the GFC, and a 12 per cent increase from Japan for the June quarter.”
Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said it was encouraging to see inbound tourism as a whole growing with visitors and spending up.