There has been a surge in the number of Chinese and Indian visitors to Australia.

The latest Bureau of Statistics figures show tourists and short-stay visitors from the two emerging Asian giants have tripled over the past decade.

The number of Chinese visitors went from under 200,000 to 630,000 in the 10 years to 2012.

Indian visitor numbers rose from 45,000 to 160,000 in the same period.

Asian countries now make up seven of the top 10 sources of visitors to Australia.

However, the greatest number of visitors to Australia still come from New Zealand, with 1.2 million trans-Tasman tourists making up a fifth of total arrivals.

China is now second in absolute terms, following a 16 per cent rise in visitors to Australia last year, followed by the UK, the US and Japan.

In total, Australia had 6.1 million short-term visitors arrive last year, with New South Wales remaining the most popular destination with 2.3 million overseas visitors, followed by Queensland and Victoria.

"Despite a high Australian dollar, Australia's short-term visitor numbers were up by nearly 5 per cent since 2011, with 6.1 million short trips made to Australia - 270,000 more than we saw in 2011," said the ABS assistant director of demography, Neil Scott.

The peak age group for short-term visitors was 25-29 years of age.

The average short-term stay was 11 days, which has remained steady for the past decade.