According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, visitor arrivals to Australia in the year to December 2011 were relatively stable compared to 2010, down only 0.2 per cent despite the impact of natural disasters and weakened economies.

Notably, there was a 6.4 per cent decrease in arrivals from the United Kingdom, and a 7% decrease in Japanese visitors.

By contrast, Chinese visitors have increased by 15% over the same period.

Overall New Zealand was the largest contributor of short-term visitor arrivals to Australia in 2011 at 20%.

The Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson said that the figures highlight opportunities for the tourism industry in 2012 and beyond.

“While the high Australian dollar and affordable airfares are continuing to make overseas travel feasible for more Australians, Australia is consistently attracting a record number of international visitors,” he added.