Growth in Australian tourism is outpacing that in the UK and US, according to analysis of World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) figures by Austravel.

The Travelopia brand found that between 2012 and 2016 – the UNWTO’s latest figures – Australia’s tourist arrivals increased 37% to 8,263,000.

In the same period, the UK has seen a 21% increase in arrivals and the US a 2% rise.

Among Australian arrivals, the number of travellers going on personal holidays has risen 45%, the biggest increase of any sub-sector. It now accounts for 80% of visitors to Australia.

There were 6,637,000 holidays taken in the country for either leisure or recreation in 2016, compared to 4,577,000 in 2012.

The number of people travelling to the country for business increased 12% across the four years.

AusTravel highlighted that the boom in tourism is boosting Australia’s economy, according to the country’s tourism ministor Steve Ciobo, who said international tourism has brought in $41.3 billion in the 12 months to December 2017, 6% more than the previous year.

The UNWTO only periodically releases their findings – so the 2012-2016 figures, released to the public in January, is its most recent set of data.

A 2017 report published by Tourism Research Australia in 2017 shows a forecasted increase of inbound tourism to Australia from 2017 onwards, estimating 8.6 million international visitors in 2016-2017, 9.2 million in 2017/18 and 9.7 million in 2018/19 – a near 13.1% increase over the three years.

Figures point to the growth coming mainly from Asian markts. This week Australia’s Bureau of Statistics reported that the country saw a record number of Chinese tourists – just less than 1.4 million – in the year to February 2018.

The figures mean the number of Chinese tourists is now higher than that of New Zealand tourists – who had long been Australia’s largest source market.

Arrivals from India are also predicted to leap 21.1% from 278,000 visitors in 2016/17 to 337,000 in 2018/19 while tourists from Japan are expected to increase 15.1% from 427,000 visitors in 2016/17 to 492,000 in 2018/19.