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CEO AllenWargent Property Buyers, & WargentAdvisory (institutional). 6 x finance author.

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Saturday, 7 May 2016

Chinese visitors punch record high

Immigration steady

In line with DIBP forecasts, permanent arrivals are now making up a lower share of population growth.

The Overseas Arrivals and Departures figures for March showed rolling annual net permanent and long term migration having steadied over the last few months at +274,400.

It's important to recognise, though, that this will not be reflected in lower total population growth over time, with forecasts projecting out population growth increases every year henceforth from 2016 to 2020 and beyond.

The main driver of this increase will be a streamlining of student visa system, which is expected to be reflected in a snowballing rise in visa grants over the remainder of the decade. 

An all-time record high 58.9 per cent of permanent settlers hailed from Asia in the year to March 2016.

As noted, the main driver of change in the rate of population growth for the remainder of the decade will be international students who are expected to go on to seek residency. 

The underlying data supports this, and there were some 488,900 education arrivals in the year to March, for a massive 18 per cent increase year-on-year. A high proportion of students arrive from Asia, and from China and India in particular. 

Rebalancing continues

Slowly but surely the lower dollar is encouraging more tourists into Australia, and more domestic holiday makers to holiday within Australia. 

Despite record household wealth and low fuel prices which continue to underpin overseas travel for Aussies, the two lines in the chart below are steadily converging, which serves as a twin boost to the rebalancing of the domestic economy. 

Total short term arrivals have surged by 8.1 per cent year-on-year to a record high of 7.61 million. 

No prizes for guessing where the bulk of the gains came from, with the number of visitors from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong bolting some 250,000 higher year-on-year to another record high of 1.47 million. 

Visitor numbers from these countries have all but tripled over the past decade, and continue to accelerate higher. In time these trends will be reflected in more Chinese residents too. 

While most visitors still came for holidays (3.73 million) over the year to March, a record 2.04 million cited visiting friends and family as the primary reason for visiting Australia, thus reinforcing the increasingly prevalent Asian century trends. 

The wrap

Overall these figures point towards a further ongoing boosts for tourism and education, while we can expect to see population growth of around 350,000 in 2016, picking up towards 400,000 per annum as the decade progresses. 

This was supported by the international trade figures during the week which showed that both the tourism and services trade balances are continuing to improve since the dollar has declined. 

My former employers Deloitte found this week that the value of international education industry in Australia had been materially undervalued. 

Education is now thought to be worth around $20 billion to the domestic economy - as well as being a key driver of immigration, it's also now one of our biggest export industries.