International tourism expenditure rebounds beyond pre-pandemic levels in Queensland

Minister for Tourism and Sport The Honourable Michael Healy
  • Queensland welcomed 24.9 million domestic and 2.1 million international visitors in the year ending March 2024, who spent $34.1 billion – or $93.2 million a day.
  • International visitor spend in the period surpassed 2019 levels, as Queensland tracks ahead of the national average in recovering international spend.
  • Business travel growth leads the way in the domestic market, as 5.7 million business visitors contributed a record $5.4 billion.

Queensland’s visitor economy reached $34.1 billion in overnight expenditure (OVE) from 24.9 million domestic and 2.1 million international visitors in the year ending March 2024, according to the latest data from Tourism Research Australia.

Visitors spend an average of $93.2 million in the state’s economy every day, supporting 260,000 Queensland jobs both directly and indirectly employed by tourism.

International visitor market

In the year ended March 2024, Queensland’s international OVE hit a new high of $6.1 billion – a 100.9 per cent recovery when compared to 2019 – with its top five source markets by OVE being New Zealand, China, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States of America.

New Zealand was Queensland’s biggest source market with visitation close to what it was before COVID-19 at 93.5 per cent, while visitors also tended to spend more time in the state. Visitors from New Zealand and the USA both generated more OVE than ever before, whilst the UK and Japan source markets also exceeded the amount of OVE generated in 2019.

The state also welcomed a record 95,000 visitors from South Korea and 72,000 from Canada, whilst a total of 27,000 arrivals from Thailand represent a 41.4 per cent increase when compared with 2019.

Two regions reached new international OVE records. They were Brisbane ($3.2bn) and Sunshine Coast ($371.1m). In addition, the Whitsundays ($171.1m), Southern Great Barrier Reef ($92.5m), Fraser Coast ($59.9m) and Outback Queensland ($17.9m) surpassed their respective 2019 international OVE levels.

Domestic visitor market

Australia overall saw a contraction in holiday visitation, as well as less visitor nights spent around the country than in the same period in 2023. While Queensland’s domestic holiday market share still sits 0.6 per cent ahead of its 2019 share, holding 27.3 per cent of total domestic holiday visitor spend – worth $14.2bn – the country’s second largest market share of holiday expenditure, the change in share over the year reflects strong headwinds that have been building for the industry including economic factors, the rising cost of living and competition from international destinations.

Additionally, the March quarter in particular was a challenge for Queensland as the state faced the impacts of severe weather resulting in holiday cancellations and market hesitancy in multiple parts of the state, as well as strong travel experienced in other states for the Taylor Swift Eras Tour.

Queensland benefitted from the ongoing return of business travel, as 5.7m domestic business visitors contributed a record $5.4bn to the state’s economy in overnight expenditure. It puts the valuable business travel market 20.8 per cent higher than 2023, and 36.2 per cent higher than 2019.

Across Queensland’s tourism regions, the Fraser Coast welcomed a record 891,000 visitors, up 14.7 per cent on average across the last three years, while Townsville and the Sunshine Coast held visitation numbers year-on-year. Some regions achieved increased visitor expenditure despite decreasing visitation numbers, while immediate recovery activities on the Gold Coast meant holiday visitation was balanced over the year.

As stated by Tourism Minister Michael Healy:

“Queensland is the top performer in the recovery of international visitor spending which is great news for our industry.

“Latest figures show we’re on track to achieve our target of a $44.4 billion tourism industry by 2032.

“Record levels of visitor spend generated by guests from New Zealand and the United States of America has been a key driver, alongside a surge of arrivals from South Korea and Canada, however we are yet to see a full return of visitors from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan – a challenge shared across Australia.

“We also see the strong challenges our industry is up against reflected in the latest figures – the impacts of severe weather, the fact many Australians are now looking to travel abroad and the rise in cost of living has led many in the more populated states to take their domestic holidays for shorter periods of time, closer to home.

“There are promising signs however, with data released last week from Tourism and Events Queensland showing one in five Australians intend to visit Queensland for a winter holiday, with most of that intent coming from New South Wales and within Queensland. Added to a bumper four-week school holiday between our two states, it should be busy time of year for tourism businesses.”

As stated by Tourism and Events Queensland CEO Patricia O’Callaghan:

“Since COVID-19 it’s been a rollercoaster for Queensland’s tourism sector, as we went from the challenges brought by travel restrictions to the incredible highs of a domestic tourism boom.”

We’re now entering a new period of normalisation that holds some promising signs in the face of strong headwinds that we know have been building over some time. The return of international visitors sooner than we expected, and the much-anticipated return of business travel is balanced by the challenge of Aussie holidaymakers looking abroad, and others being limited in where they can travel by rising costs at home.”

We’ll continue to work together with the industry to showcase Queensland as a world class holiday destination, with our recent campaign ‘Queensland is Bluey’s world in real life’ a prime example of that in action. We’ve already sent more than 150,000 leads to industry in the first weeks of the campaign, in what has been our biggest campaign in more than a decade, truly centred around conversion.”

“We have a packed calendar of events across all 13 tourism regions and will continue to support operators throughout the state to make Queensland the dominant holiday destination for Australians and international visitors alike.”

/Public Release. View in full here.