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

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Monday, 10 October 2016

Chinese visitors more than double in 4 years

Long term migration steadies

Net permanent and long term migration into Australia seems to be steadying, summimg +266,400 in the year to August, according to the latest ABS Overseas Arrivals and Departures figures. 

The number of permanent settlers per annum appears to be very gradually rising again, with 57.1 per cent of settlers hailing from Asia. 

It feels as though annual population growth in 2016 will be tracking at around +1.3 per cent, or somewhere between +300,000 and +350,000. 

However, the composition of growth has changed very significantly since the peak of the mining investment boom in 2012, with Sydney and Melbourne accounting for a record and ever-greater share of the headcount growth. In aggregate, regional population growth has slowed. 

Chinese arrivals

More dramatically, total annual short term arrivals increased by a very strong +10.6 per cent over the year to August, to sit at a smidgen under 8 million.

Outbound trips are still increasing too, but at a far less sprightly pace (in fact the pace of outbound growth is less than half of that of short term arrivals, meaning that a positive rebalancing continues). 

The annual number of Chinese arrivals continues to accelerate at an astonishing pace, increasing by +23.1 per cent over the past year to a new high of 1.18 million.

There are now more annual visitors from China and Hong Kong to Australia than there are from our more proximate neighbour New Zealand. 

While many are short term arrivals bona fide tourists, a total of precisely 500,000 short term arrivals into Australia over the year to August were primarily for the purposes of education.

Higher education is hugely attractive for international students from Asia, since it comes with the lure of potential permanent residency, obviously a big drawcard. 

Note that there are now more than two years of water under the bridge since the higher education boom really teed off in earnest, meaning that over the next year or two there may is likely to be a very strong uplift in students being granted permanent residency (as indeed is forecast by the DIBP) or sundry visa types.

The wrap

While permanent and long term migration to Australia seems to have levelled out, arguably the more significant trends are taking place beneath the surface. 

There is plenty of noise in month-to-month figures, but simply following the trend in the number of monthly visitors from China shows a doubling from less than 50,000 per month in early 2012 to well over 100,000 per month in Q3 2016. 

In terms of the property sector, while it's true that that the incoming wave of Chinese capital most impacts new and off-the-plan properties, there are now so many permanent residents and citizens of Chinese heritage that the impacts have shifted into established property too. 

News draws a tangible link between education arrivals and Chinese property buying activity, notably in inner Sydney suburbs such as Haymarket, Ultimo, Kensington, Surry Hills, Waterloo, and other parts of South Sydney, for example.