Cashed-up visitors staying longer in Brisbane

Brisbane Southbank. | Newsreel
Visitors to Brisbane are staying longer and spending more. | Photo: mvaligursky (iStock)

Visitors to Brisbane opened their wallets last year, driving a record spend, despite overall numbers still recovering from the pandemic slump.

The latest Tourism Research Australia data, released by the Brisbane Economic Development Agency, showed international visitors spent a record $2.9 billion in the city last year, up 1.7 percent from 2019’s pre-pandemic figures.

Domestic visitors also rang up a record, handing over $7.2 billion, up 14.1 percent on 2022 figures.

While overall international visitor numbers were still 21.8 percent down on 2019 figures at 1.2 million, the average length of stay for visitors increased by more than three nights to 21.6 nights.

New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States had the largest numbers of international visitors to Brisbane in 2023, while record breaking numbers of visitors from countries including Canada, India and Thailand spent time in the city.

Indian visitors especially flocked to Brisbane with 51,000 gracing the city, an increase of almost 17 percent from the 2019 high, and staying for 2.8 million nights, an increase if almost 52 percent from before the pandemic.

Brisbane’s popularity with southern cities is also stronger than ever, with record numbers of visitors from Melbourne, up 9.4 percent to 654,000, and Sydney, up 10.3 percent from the previous year to 940,000.

Brisbane Economic Development Agency Chief Executive Officer Anthony Ryan said the popularity of Brisbane with travellers from Sydney and Melbourne was supported by the city’s strategic destination marketing.

“The popularity of Brisbane for holidaymakers from southern states shows that the destination campaigns we are rolling out in those markets are resonating and enticing people to visit Brisbane in record numbers,” Mr Ryan said.

Brisbane is riding on a wave of international accolades recently, including the only Australian city named among The New York Times’ 52 Places to Go in 2024 and Tangalooma Beach on Moreton Island/Mulgumpin named one of Lonely Planet’s World’s Best Beaches.

These global honours came hot on the heels of TIME Magazine including Brisbane among its World’s Greatest Places of 2023, Fortitude Valley’s Agnes Restaurant crowned Restaurant of the Year in 2023 by Gourmet Traveller, and The Calile Hotel named as the best hotel in Oceania in The World’s 50 Best Hotels awards.

Here’s a rundown of the results for the year ending December 2023:

National Visitors

  • Total expenditure: $7.2 billion, up 14.1 percent Year on Year (YoY). Record.
  • Total visitors: 7.3 million, up 2.2 percent YoY.
  • Total visitor nights: 21.9 million nights, down 4 percent YoY.
  • Holiday visitors: 2.3 million, up 3.4 percent YoY.
  • Total spend per visitor: $992, up 11.6 percent YoY.
  • Visiting friends and relatives: 2.8 million, down 5.3 percent YoY.
  • Business visitors: 1.8 million, up 14.4 percent YoY.

International Visitors

  • Total expenditure: $2.9 billion, up 1.7 percent on 2019. Record.
  • Total visitors: 1.2 million, down 21.8 percent on 2019.
  • Total visitor nights: 24.9 million, down 7.9 percent on 2019.
  • Total spend per visitor: $2536, up 29.9 percent on 2019.
  • Average length of stay: 21.6 nights, up 3.3 nights on 2019.
  • International holiday nights: 5.1 million, down 28.5 percent on 2019.
  • Visiting friends and relatives: 442,000, down 2.6 percent  on 2019.
  • Total visiting friends and relatives nights: 9.5 million, up 21 percent on 2019. Record.
  • Business visitors: 126,000, down 10.8 percent on 2019.

Source markets to Brisbane

  • Intrastate total visitors: 4.2 million, up 1.9 percent YoY.
  • Interstate total visitors: 3.2 million, up 2.6 percent YoY.
  • Interstate holiday visitors: 857,000 up 11.3 percent YoY.
  • Interstate holiday nights: 3 million up 4.8 percent YoY.
  • Sydney total visitors: 940,000, up 10.3 percent YoY.
  • Melbourne total visitors: 654,000 up 9.4 percent YoY. Record.
  • New Zealand: 219,000, down 4.6 percent on 2019.
  • United Kingdom: 120,000, down 7 percent on 2019.
  • United States of America: 99,000, down 9.5 percent on 2019.
  • South Korea: 48,000, up 12.6 percent on 2019.
  • China: 69,000, down 75.2 percent on 2019.
  • India: 51,000 up 16.8 percent on 2019. Record.
  • India visitor nights: 2.8 million, up 51.7 percent on 2019. Record.
  • Canada: 44,000, up 12.7 percent on 2019. Record.
  • Thailand: 88,000, up 52.9 percent on 2019. Record.
  • Other Asia: 55,000, up 19.8 percent on 2019.