Expenditure by international visitors to Queensland increased to over $4.9 billion in 2015 from $4.2 billion in 2014, a 19% increase, according to new International Visitor Survey data released by Tourism Research Australia (see chart below). This was less than the 30% increase Victoria experienced, but around the same as the 19% increase in NSW.
Actual international visitor numbers increased by nearly 9% to 2.34 million in 2015 in Queensland. So the lower Australian dollar (see chart below) has brought an increase in both visitor numbers and average spending while in Australia (up 9%) by visitors who are taking advantage of the greater purchasing power of their own currencies in Australia. Visitors are staying one night longer on average, and they may be staying in better hotels and eating more expensive restaurant meals, for example.
Tourism is clearly helping Queensland endure the end of the mining boom. Also, as discussed in my previous post on the latest National Accounts figures, the Queensland economy benefited from a timely increase in State and Local Government capital expenditure in the December quarter (see chart below). This would have been partly due to Commonwealth Games-related construction activity on the Gold Coast, as well as partly due to local council public works spending in the lead up to council elections this month. Without this boost in public sector capital spending, state final demand would have recorded a fall in December quarter (and Queensland would have been totally reliant on increased exports to have grown the economy in the quarter, noting that state final demand does not include exports). It remains to be seen just how far State and local government capital spending can continue to increase and add to economic growth, given the budgetary challenges faced by the State Government in particular.