A record 8.5 million overseas tourists made Australia their choice holiday destination last year, pumping a massive $44 billion into the Australian economy, according to the latest international visitor survey results released today.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said the tourism industry in Australia continued to boom.

"These latest results show an extra 425,000 overseas tourists flocked to Australia in the last year and importantly, injected an extra $3.1 billion into the Australian economy.  

"In the last year we have seen, what is equivalent to, an extra 1000 jumbos arrive in our airports, full of tourists from around the globe, keen to experience an Australian holiday.

"Whether it is trekking up Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, swimming with whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef or four wheel driving on Fraser Island, international visitors clearly have Australia marked on their bucket list of top tourist destinations.

"Much of this growth continues to be driven by Australia's key Asian markets, with China maintaining its status as our top market with 1.3 million visitors spending $11.7 billion, an increase of 5 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

"India continued to be the strongest performing market having recorded double digit spending growth each year since 2014.

"Asia presents an enormous tourism opportunity for Australia thanks to the region's huge emerging middle class, ever improving aviation capacity and increasingly competitive airfares.

"Within the Chinese market specifically, we are also seeing a noticeable shift towards Free and Independent Travellers (FIT), who are more likely to stay longer, spend more and disperse more widely across regional Australia.

"Tourism Australia continues to execute marketing campaigns that deliberately target these kinds of high value travellers, with a particular focus on encouraging repeat visitation, travel in out of peak periods and encouraging more international visitors to venture out of the cities and explore further afield.

"Earlier this month I launched the Too Australian for Words campaign in China and last year, the UnDiscover Australia campaign in South East Asia; both of which target high value travellers by showcasing unusual, unfamiliar and unexpected attractions and experiences that exist beyond our gateways.

"With 1 in 13 Australians already employed in Australia's $136 billion tourism industry, these strong results only help to further strengthen our economy and create more jobs for more Australians."

The latest International Visitor Survey results are available on the Tourism Research Australia website.

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