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State win: NSW leads Australian travel recovery with a record-breaking $50B in visitor spend

In the never-ending battle for state supremacy, New South Wales can claim a clear edge for tourism, exceeding $50 billion in visitor expenditure for the first time and leading Australia’s post-pandemic travel rebound, says Destination NSW.

In the never-ending battle for state supremacy, New South Wales can claim a clear edge for tourism, exceeding $50 billion in visitor expenditure for the first time and leading Australia’s post-pandemic travel rebound, says Destination NSW.

Destination NSW is notching up a win with 2023 Tourism Research Australia (TRA) figures showing domestic and international travellers contributed a whopping AUD$51.4 billion to the state visitor economy.

Last year, overseas arrivals to NSW reached 78 per cent of pre-pandemic levels with visitor spend at almost 100 per cent (96%).

International revival

VividSydney2023 SydneyOperaHouse LightingoftheSails LifeEnlivened CREDITDestinationNSW HL056 1
Vivid Sydney and other international events are a major drawcard.

NSW welcomed the most international visitors (up 1.8 million), nights spent (up 42.8 million) and visitor expenditure (up $6 billion) nationally in 2023.

And sorry, Melbourne, Sydney was the visitor economy leader last year, attracting more than half (53%) of all international travellers to Australian capital cities.

Overall, international visitors to Sydney stayed for 73.1 million nights and spent $10 billion, representing 40 per cent and 44 per cent of total nights and expenditure respectively.

The US, New Zealand and the UK remained NSW’s highest source markets in 2023 followed by China. The state also saw the fastest visitor growth from South Korea while Singapore led in expenditure increase.

Domestic tourism

Bubbletent Australia's outdoor bathtub with scenic views over the Capertee Valley ©Destination NSW
Bubbletent Australia’s outdoor bathtub with scenic views over the Capertee Valley.

Interstate visitors to NSW increased by 9.3 per cent last year contributing to the state’s highest-ever domestic expenditure at $40.5 billion.

Regional NSW lead the rest of regional Australia for domestic day-trip visitor numbers with nature-based activities and caravan and camping holidays major drawcards for overnight visitors as well.

Western Sydney also accounted for one in five domestic overnight visitors to Sydney in 2023 with a total of 2.2 million interstate visitors (up 3.1% on 2022), who spent a combined $1.4 billion (up 30.4%).

Kayaking on Sydney Harbour in summer ©Destination NSW
Kayaking on Sydney Harbour in summer.

Destination NSW CEO Steve Cox said: “The NSW visitor economy is leading the country’s recovery from the pandemic and attracting the majority of international visitors to Australia as well as setting new benchmarks domestically.”

“It is gratifying to see Western Sydney’s visitor economy go from strength to strength. It is already Australia’s third-largest economy and is on the runway to becoming an even bigger powerhouse for the state’s visitor economy.

“When Western Sydney International Airport opens in 2026 it will have capacity for 10 million passengers per year, further boosting visitation to Greater Sydney and regional NSW,” he said.

For more info, head to destinationnsw.com.au