INTERNATIONAL tourists flocked to Australia in FY16 with the tourism industry growing three times faster than the broader economy.
Figures from Tourism Research Australia show there was a record 7.2 million international visitors in the 12 months to June 30, up 10 per cent on the previous year.
The level of spending grew at a faster rate, surging 14 per cent to $38.1 billion.
The growth in international visitors compares with the latest GDP figure showing the broader economy has expanded by 3.1 per cent.
It also compares with the latest forecast from BIS Shrapnel which has economic growth sliding each year over the next three years to 2.1 per cent by 2018-19.
Tourism Research Australia says visitor numbers have spiked across the board, driven by stronger arrivals from New Zealand, China, the US, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Germany and Switzerland.
New Zealand remains Australia's biggest inbound market with 1.2 million visitors, but strong growth from China puts visitor numbers at a close second.
The Chinese market has grown 23 per cent to 1.06 million, and at that rate it will outstrip Kiwi arrivals in the current financial year.
China and Taiwan are the fastest growing inbound market, at 23 per cent, followed by Korea at 21 per cent.
Tourism Research Australia has found that more inbound visitors are coming for a holiday, for education or to visit friends and relatives, while there has been a fall in the number coming to Australia for business.
Education and tourism remain the biggest reasons for the rise in international arrivals.
In percentage terms Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT recorded the strongest growth at 13 per cent, followed by Queensland at 11 per cent.
Visitor growth in NSW and South Australia stood at 10 per cent.
While the backpacker market also grew during the year, it was at a slower pace to the rest of the international visitors, or 2.4 per cent.
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