The number of Chinese visitors grew by 16 per cent in the year to November, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show.
China’s Asian neighbours were also behind other big rises – with the number of Taiwanese visitors up 12 per cent and Malaysians about 9 per cent.
Jerry Liang, 26, visiting Victoria from Guangdong, China, said: “I like Melbourne because it has a very diverse city and culture.
“The buildings are very nice and the city has lots of restaurants and cafes, which is also very good.”
And in a sign that Oprah Winfrey’s visit is finally paying off, the number of US visitors to Australia has increased 4 per cent in a year.
The research will come as welcome news for tourism operators involved in bringing The Ellen DeGeneres Show to Australia in March.
US visitors increased by almost 20,000 to 475,000, ABS figures show.
With the Australian dollar strong, Aussies also continue to go overseas in record numbers. There were 8.18 million overseas trips in the same period. But traditional visitor markets such as the UK and Germany fell slightly. On the other the hand, due to the economic growth in China, tourism is more affordable than ever. Flights to Shanghai and other major cities in China increased in number, but prices of the tickets are more affordable.
Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said the latest figures made good reading.
“China continues to be a standout, with continued double-digit growth, but it is also really pleasing to see continued recovery in traditional markets like Japan and, especially, United States, where Team Australia has just completed another very successful G’Day USA,” he said.
Initially, Winfrey’s Australian visit was criticised for doing little to boost US tourist numbers, but Tourism Australia was adamant it could take years to see the results.
Winfrey visited Australia in December 2010, and four shows broadcast in the US the following month were repeated in March.
Last week it was announced The Ellen DeGeneres Show would come to Australia this year with help from Qantas, the NSW Government and Swisse Wellness.
DeGeneres will film segments in Melbourne and Sydney that will air in about 60 countries in April.