More international tourists flock to art than wineries, casinos or sport

The Australia Council for the Arts has released a new report on the state of international tourism, with the conclusion that the arts are ‘a bigger drawcard for international tourists than wineries, casinos or sport.’  

Titled International Arts Tourism: Connecting Cultures, this research brings together data from Tourism Research Australia (TRA) with additional resources. It concludes that over the last five years, arts tourist numbers grew by 47% between 2013 and 2017, a higher growth rate than for international tourist numbers overall (37%).

Nearly half (43%) of the eight million international tourists to Australia in 2017 engaged with the arts during their stay.

Australia Council Executive Director for Strategic Development and Advocacy Dr Wendy Were said the research highlights the power of the arts in shaping international perceptions of Australia. "The research highlights the growing potential for the arts to drive and support tourism activity, and for our artists to increase their engagement with the international tourist market." 

The report found:

  • Visitors to Australia were more likely to engage with arts (43%) than to visit wineries (13%), casinos (12%) or attend organised sporting events (6%)
  • Visitors from Asia were the biggest group of arts tourists, representing almost half (48%) of all international tourists engaged with the arts
  • China is our biggest single-country market for arts tourism. Almost 620,000 arts tourists came to Australia from China in 2017.
  • Nearly 830,000 international arts tourists (one in four) engaged with First Nations arts while in Australia
  • The most popular activity for arts tourists was visiting museums and galleries (more than 2.5 million visitors in 2017)
  • More than one million international tourists attended festivals, fairs and cultural events in 2017, an increase of 61% since 2013
  • The five countries making up the largest numbers of international arts tourists in 2017 were China, the UK, the USA, New Zealand and Japan. Total numbers of arts tourists from Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, Europe, North America and South America have grown year on year since 2008.

Read the full report here