Malaysians and Singaporeans are among the highest number of repeat visitors to Australia, according to Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) deputy managing director Owen Johnstone-Donnet.
TTF is a lobby group that advocates the public policy interests of the 200 most prestigious corporations and institutions in Australian tourism, transport, property and infrastructure.
Malaysia is the ninth inbound market for arrivals to Australia. Over the next 10 years, arrivals from Malaysia were anticipated to grow at an average annual rate of 4.6%.
Malaysian tourists accounted for 2.7% of all international expenditure in 2006, making the country the 10th largest source of total expenditure. In the first nine months, visitors from Malaysia totalled 111,500, or 8% higher than the corresponding period last year.
In terms of trade, Australia is Malaysias 10th largest export destination as well as 12th biggest importer in 2006.
Malaysia and Australia had a close relationship in education and defence, Johnstone-Donnet said during a recent media familiarisation programme.
About a quarter of a million Malaysians have studied in various parts of Australia.
Currently there were about 19,500 Malaysian students, which were the fifth largest international students in the country, he noted. Last year, about 5.5 million tourists visited the country, contributing some AU$84bil.
The tourists are mainly from Britain, Japan, the US and Hong Kong. Japanese arrivals, however, have been on a declining trend due to currency exchange and rising opportunities to fly to short-haul destinations.
Tourism is Australias third largest economic contributor after mining and agriculture.
By 2016, tourist arrivals to Australia are likely to reach almost nine million with contributions expected to cross over AU$100bil spurred by economic growth in China, India, the Middle East and rest of Asia over the next 10 years.
Australian is also seeing a major change currently as leader of the Labour Party, Kevin Rudd took office as the new Prime Minister.
The new Government is expected to emphasize on education, industrialisation, healthcare, climate change and higher engagement with rest of Asia, Johnstone-Donnet said.