Tourism has overtaken coal as one of Australia's largest exports

The latest trade data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that visitors to Australia have now overtaken coal to be Australia’s second largest export by value. Iron ore remains our largest export.

Australia has been and remains a major beneficiary of trade with China. Australia is one of the few countries to have a trade surplus with China. In 2016, Australian exports to China amounted to over $93 billion, whereas imports where just over $62 billion.

Australia has benefited from China’s demand for commodities in recent years, with exports of iron ore, coal and metals being among our largest exports. However, Australia is also well placed to cater for the rise of the Chinese consumer and increasing demand for services such as travel and education as well as food and wine.

The recent boom in tourist arrivals shows how Australia is still able to benefit as China moves from an infrastructure and capital spending lead economy to more of a consumer driven economy. While our commodity exports remain important, tourism earnings have risen by around 67% in the past five years.

Visitors from China have now overtaken those from our neighbour New Zealand as our largest source of arrivals. The rise of incomes and the growing demand for travel and education services from the new middle class in China suggests that this growth will continue.

Visitors from China have been growing at over 10% per annum and there are now seven Chinese airlines that fly into Sydney airport.

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