The number of visitor arrivals to Australia was 637,100 in September, up by 15,200 from August and by 62,900 from a year before, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Monday.
China, including Hong Hong, accounted for more than one-third of the annual increase in arrivals, with a rise of 22,200.
That lifted the monthly total to 113,500, making China the biggest source of visitors to Australia for the first time.
That place had previously been held by the Kiwis, who now occupy second place with 110,000, up by 7700 over the past year.
An improving trend in travel, part of the economy’s “rebalancing” as the mining investment boom tapers off, has been dominated by the acceleration in arrivals of visiting foreigners.
The gap between arrivals and departures narrowed to 138,200 in September, down from 181,100 a year ago and 206,400 in September 2013.
But the improvement has been helped by slower growth in Australian resident departures since the Australian dollar topped out and started to drift lower in mid-2103, making overseas travel less of a bargain.
The number of Australians heading abroad fell 7300 in September to 775,300, to be up only 20,000 from 12 months before.
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