Australian tourism statistics | Mozo

By Jack Dona · Last updated Tuesday, 6 December 2022 fact checking process and our

Tourism in Australia suffered a massive blow during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the industry looks to be recovering steadily since border restrictions were scrapped in November 2021.

While the number of travellers coming to Australia hasn’t reached pre-pandemic levels yet, the latest statistics available indicate that the Australian tourism industry is alive and well in 2022. 

Here you’ll find Australian tourism facts and statistics, like how many people visit Australia each year, which Australian cities are the most popular tourist destinations and Australian tourism industry statistics.

Quick stats

  • Australian tourism has made a fair recovery but hasn’t reached pre-pandemic levels yet
  • Pre-Covid, Australia saw an average of 6.7 million international visitors annually 
  • The top three most common tourists to Australia were from New Zealand, the UK, and Singapore
  • In 2022, the most common reason for international travellers coming to Australia was to visit friends and relatives (pre-Covid, it was for holidays)
  • NSW, Vic, and Qld are the top 3 preferred states for international visitors.

How many tourists come to Australia each year?

As of September 2022, Tourism Australia says that there were approximately 2.2 million international visitors to our shores, illustrating the slow recovery of Australia’s tourism industry. 

According to Tourism Research Australia (TRA), the year ending June 2022 saw only 1.1 million international visitors arrive in the country. That’s about 13% of pre-pandemic levels. 

However, it’s important to consider that the data for 5 of the 12 months to June 2022 was recorded before border restrictions were scrapped in November 2021. 

In the decade preceding the 2020 pandemic, there was a yearly average of about 6.7 million international visitors to Australia, according to TRA data.

Short-term arrival stats from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) illustrate the difference between pre-pandemic and post-pandemic travel to Australia, despite being a year out from border restrictions being removed. 

According to the ABS, the number of short-term international arrivals (those travelling in Australia for less than 12 months) for September 2022 was 46.5% lower than in September 2019, pre-Covid pandemic.

What was the most common reason for travelling to Australia?

Visiting friends and relatives was the most common reason for travelling to Australia in 2022, according to Tourism Australia. 

The most common purpose for visiting Australia in 2022 was:

  • Visiting friends and relatives (55.5%)
  • Holiday (16.9%)
  • Business (8.4%)
  • Education (7%)
  • Others (6.6%)
  • Employment (5.6%).

However, the picture was dramatically different in 2019. 

The data from 2019 shows that the most common purpose for visiting Australia was: 

  • Holiday (46%)
  • Visiting friends and relatives (30%)
  • Business (8.9%)
  • Education (6.8%)
  • Others (5.8%)
  • Employment (2.4%).

What country visits Australia the most?

According to TRA, the most common tourists to Australia in 2022 were from New Zealand, with 177,000 visitors from across the ditch. 

The top 5 countries which visited Australia the most in 2022 were:

  • New Zealand (177,000) 
  • India (129,000)
  • United Kingdom (124,000)
  • Singapore (104,000)
  • United States of America (91,000).

How much money does Australia make from tourism each year?

Tourism was once Australia’s fourth-largest exporting industry. It contributed to 8.2% of the country’s export earnings in 2018-19, making it a very valuable industry for Australia’s economy. 

In total, Australia generated $60.8 billion in 2018-19 as a result of both domestic and international tourism, as per Tourism Australia. In that same financial year, international visitors spent $44.6 billion in Australia. 

Furthermore, tourism isn’t only important for the major Australian cities. Tourism Australia found that 44 cents of every dollar spent was in regional areas.

A graphic illustrating the percentage of money that goes into both metro and regional areas as a result of tourism.

Two-year holiday hiatus due to the pandemic

In the two years prior to 2022, our tourism industry took a very real hit. It generated far less money and employed far fewer people than usual.

An infographic illustrating the drop in tourism industry employment, tourism's percentage of the GDP, and the amount that international tourists spent in Australia.

For example, the number of people employed in tourism over the 2020-21 financial year fell by over 20% (129,200 jobs) to 507,000 employees.  

Gross domestic product has been down, too. The latest Tourism Satellite Account released by the ABS recorded a fall of 38% in tourism GDP over the 2020-21 financial year. The release also shows that tourism’s contribution to Australia’s GDP dropped from 2.6% to 1.6% from the previous financial year. 

In the post-pandemic world, fewer tourists has obviously meant few dollars spent on our shores. For example, international tourists to Australia spent a comparatively low $7.5 billion in the financial year to June 2022 – 24% of pre-Covid levels according to TRA.

Most visited states in Australia

Most tourists go to New South Wales when they visit Australia, according to the Overseas Arrivals and Departures data from the ABS. 

NSW accounted for 36.6% of all short-term visitors state or territory of stay while in Australia, followed by Victoria (28.4%), Queensland (18.7%), Western Australia (9.1%), South Australia (3.6%), the Australian Capital Territory (1.6%), Tasmania (1.1%), then the Northern Territory (0.8%).

Feeling inspired to go globetrotting after much of the world’s borders have reopened? Check out Mozo’s travel insurance guides and news for the latest travel inspiration and updates.

Jack Dona
Jack Dona

Money writer

As a Mozo money writer, Jack’s goal is to cut through the jargon and give people the knowledge they need to make better informed financial decisions. With a background in communications and journalism, he brings his creative flair for language to make the world of insurance and money management fun, as well as educational.