The five per cent increase in expenditure from international tourists was pushed by an almost 10 per cent increase in visitors, with 7.7 million tourists spending a combined 262 million nights in the country.
China led the way in terms of sheer volume of people entering the country. More than 1.1 million Chinese tourists came to Australia, almost double the number of tourists from the country's second biggest market, the US. Tourists from China spent $9.7 billion, which was an increase of nine per cent.
In order, the top five nationalities visiting Australia were China, US, UK, New Zealand and Japan, with these countries contributing over half of the total spend during the year.
Asian markets showed the fastest growth with six regions showing double-digit growth including Japan (up 18 per cent to $1.7 billion), Korea (up 10 per cent to $1.6 billion) and India (up 18 per cent to $1.3 billion).
Records were broken around the country, with Queensland and South Australia both hitting milestones.
In Queensland alone, 2.6 million visitors passed through and generated a record $5.2 billion into the state's economy.
Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones says the data affirms the strength of the tourism industry and its ability to pull in overseas tourists.
"This reaffirms Queensland's tourism industry is going strong with total visitor nights from overseas travellers increasing to 53.5 million, up 3.2 per cent," says Jones.
"This shows Queensland has all the experiences and destinations that overseas travellers are looking for, from our stunning beaches to our beautiful country towns, world-class events and unbeatable hospitality, Queensland has something for everyone."
"We know that attracting visitors plays a vital role in building a strong economy and our efforts to attract more visitors through initiatives like the Connecting with Asia strategy and the Attracting Aviation Investment Fund is delivering results, along with our first-class events portfolio."
South Australia was a big performer in its own right, cracking the $1 billion mark for the first time.
A record 436,000 international visits to the state drove up expenditure by 12 per cent to $1.1 billion which was way ahead of the national growth rate of 8.1 per cent.
Chinese tourism drove the boom with a growth rate of 48 per cent increase in visits to 50,000 and a total spend of $315 million, but visitors from the United Kingdom remain the largest group of visitors to South Australia.
The South Australian State Government has recently invested an extra $70 million in tourism funding to market South Australia nationally and internationally.
South Australian Minister for Tourism Leon Bignell says the results demonstrate how the government is delivering on their promises to attract people to Adelaide and its surrounds.
"These results are absolutely fantastic and show we are delivering on our promise to attract more visitors and tourism dollars into South Australia," says Bignell.
"The best money we can have in our state is the money out of the pockets, purses and wallets of visitors from overseas. That's how we grow our economy and create more jobs.
"A strong tourism sector is imperative for South Australia and we are committed to investing in our State's economic future as we work towards achieving the target of an $8 billion visitor economy by 2020."
Never miss a story: Sign up to Business News Australia's free news updates
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support