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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1995  
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Contents >> Culture and Leisure >> Special Feature: Travel and tourism in Australia

Special Feature: Travel and tourism in Australia

The number of international visitors travelling to Australia has increased from 125,000 in 1963 to 3 million in 1993.

Both domestic and international travel and tourism in Australia are growing. The increasing accessibility of air travel has resulted in substantial growth in domestic and international tourism over the last 30 years. Improvements in road transport systems have also increased flexibility for domestic travellers.

The government has played a role in the growth of tourism by promoting Australia as an international tourist destination. Cultural and recreational events are important in attracting visitors from both within Australia and overseas. Recent examples are World Expo '88, Australia's Bicentennial and the annual Adelaide Grand Prix. The Sydney 2000 Olympics will generate a substantial increase in both domestic and international tourism.


Tourism

Tourism consists of all short-term travel away from the usual place of residence, including that undertaken for business and pleasure. It includes both domestic and international travel.

International visitors are defined as overseas residents arriving in Australia intending to stay for periods of less than 12 months.

Data sources

Data on tourism in Australia are available from a number of different sources. The ABS collects monthly data about overseas arrivals and departures. The ABS also collects quarterly statistics on tourist accommodation.

The Bureau of Tourism Research (BTR) conducts two regular tourism surveys. In the International Visitor Survey, international visitors aged 15 and over are interviewed at Australia's major airports as they are leaving Australia. The Domestic Tourism Monitor is a household survey of domestic travel undertaken by Australians aged 14 and over. In 1992, BTR also conducted the Domestic Tourism Expenditure Survey. Accurate data on the activities and expenditure of domestic and international tourists are difficult to collect. This is because the surveys rely on the tourists' recollections of activities and expenditure for up to 12 months previously. Consequently the data collected do not always reflect all aspects of their travel accurately.


International tourism
The number of international visitors to Australia has been increasing for many years. In 1963, 125,000 international visitors came to Australia. This had risen to 3.0 million by 1993 and the increase is expected to continue. The Bureau of Tourism Research has forecast that over 5 million overseas residents will visit Australia in 2001. Australia receives more world tourism than it generates. 3.0 million visitors travelled to Australia in 1993 compared to 2.3 million trips that Australians took overseas.

International visitors
Over one-fifth of international visitors to Australia in 1993 came from Japan. This was followed by New Zealand, UK and Ireland, and the United States. Visitors from these countries accounted for 59% of all international visitors. Over the past five years the number of visitors from Asia has more than doubled.

In 1993, 54% of visitors to Australia were aged under 40. In comparison, 66% of all visitors from Japan were aged under 40. There were slightly more male than female international visitors in 1993.

63% of international visitors reported that the main reason for their visit to Australia was for a holiday, and a further 18% came to visit relatives. However, purpose of visit varies with country of origin. The majority (92%) of Japanese visitors stated holiday as the main reason for their visit. While only 44% of visitors from UK and Ireland reported this reason, a further 43% reported that visiting relatives was the main reason for their visit. This reflects the high proportion of Australian residents with forebears from UK and Ireland (see Australian Social Trends 1994, Birthplaces of Australian settlers).

INTERNATIONAL VISITORS



Source: Overseas Arrivals and Departures

INTERNATIONAL VISITORS: PURPOSE OF VISIT BY COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE, 1993

Holiday(a)
Visiting relatives
Business, employment
Attending convention
Other(b)
Total
Total visitors
Country of residence
%
%
%
%
%
%
'000

Japan
92.2
1.3
3.9
0.2
2.4
100.0
670.8
New Zealand
45.4
27.8
15.8
1.8
9.2
100.0
499.3
UK & Ireland
43.9
42.6
8.7
0.9
3.9
100.0
321.3
United States of America
56.6
13.7
17.1
4.6
8.1
100.0
281.3
Singapore
76.2
8.9
7.7
1.2
5.8
100.0
154.9
Taiwan
80.3
8.6
4.6
0.5
6.0
100.0
108.7
Germany
76.1
11.8
6.0
0.8
5.3
100.0
105.6
All countries
63.1
17.7
9.8
1.7
7.8
100.0
2,996.2

(a) Includes people accompanying business travellers.
(b) Includes in transit and not stated.

Source: Overseas Arrivals and Departures


International visitors' accommodation
The 1993 International Visitor Survey found that most international visitors spend at least one night in a hotel (62%), or with friends or relatives (38%). This is related to country of origin and purpose of visit. Japanese visitors were the most likely to stay in a hotel (95%), while those from UK and Ireland were most likely to stay with friends or relatives (72%).

Length of stay of international visitors
In 1993, international visitors stayed in Australia for an average of 23 nights. However, length of stay varies by the country of origin and the purpose of the trip. Visitors from Japan stayed an average of 7 nights, reflecting a holiday purpose. Visitors from UK and Ireland stayed for an average of 41 nights, reflecting both the purpose of visiting relatives and the longer distance travelled.

Expenditure by international visitors
The amount of money international visitors spend while in Australia varies with length of stay and type of trip. The average expenditure by international visitors to Australia in 1993 was $1,787 a trip, split almost equally between shopping; food, drink and accommodation; and other expenditure such as car hire, additional travel, entrance to attractions etc. Visitors from Germany spent on average $2,773 a trip. Visitors from the United States spent, on average, $2,000 a trip, almost half of this on food, drink and accommodation. In contrast, Japanese visitors spent, on average, $1,388 a trip, almost three-quarters of which was spent shopping. This reflects the high proportion of Japanese tourists who visit Australia on prepaid package tours.

AVERAGE EXPENDITURE(a) BY INTERNATIONAL VISITORS, 1993

Shopping
Food, drink and accommodation
Total
Country of residence
$
$
$

Germany
495
1,053
2,773
United States of America
370
918
2,000
United Kingdom & Ireland
446
861
1,914
Japan
1,018
206
1,388
New Zealand
411
412
1,119
All countries
618
581
1,787

(a) Does not include expenditure by visitors on inclusive package tours purchased outside Australia.

Source: Bureau of Tourism Research International Visitor Survey


Leisure activities of international visitors
International visitors participated in a wide variety of leisure activities during their visits to Australia. The most popular leisure activity for international visitors was going to a zoo, animal or marine park. Over half of all international visitors went to such a park in 1993. Sporting activities included swimming and surfing (31%), bushwalking (14%) and scuba diving and snorkelling (13%). Overall, international visitors were more likely to visit parks and gardens than to participate in sporting activities while in Australia.

The type of activities that international visitors participate in varies with country of origin. Japanese visitors were the most likely to go to a zoo, animal or marine park (76%), while visitors from Germany were the most likely to visit national/state parks (69%).

The type of activities that international visitors participate in is also affected by the purpose of their trip. In 1993, those visitors in Australia for a holiday were more likely to visit zoos, animals and marine parks (63%) than those in Australia for any other purpose. Those visiting friends and relatives were most likely to visit national/state parks (48%). Visitors in Australia for business were less likely to participate in leisure activities than those travelling for any other reason.

TOP TEN LEISURE ACTIVITIES OF INTERNATIONAL VISITORS(a), 1993

Visitors
Participation
Type of activity
'000
%

Visit a zoo, animal or marine park
1,429
51.3
Visit a national/state park
1,237
44.4
Historical/heritage buildings, monuments
1,193
42.9
Swimming/surfing
865
31.1
Visit botanical gardens
786
28.2
Visit art galleries or museums
671
24.1
Amusement/theme parks or agricultural shows
610
21.9
Bushwalking
384
13.8
Scuba diving/snorkelling
366
13.1
Craft workshops/studios
313
11.2

(a) People aged 15 and over.

Source: Bureau of Tourism Research International Visitor Survey


Domestic tourism

The Bureau of Tourism Research defines domestic tourism as travel by Australian residents involving a stay away from home for one or more nights and requiring a journey of at least 40 kilometres from home, undertaken for any reason. It includes both interstate and intrastate travel.

An interstate trip is a trip taken by an Australian resident within Australia other than in the state/territory in which he/she resides. An intrastate trip is a trip taken by an Australian resident within the state/territory in which he/she resides. The main destination of a trip is the place on the journey where the most nights were spent.


Domestic tourism
In 1992-93, domestic travellers took 47.9 million trips. While there was an increase of 7% in the number of domestic trips taken between 1984-85 and 1992-93, there was a decrease in the number of domestic trips taken per person, from 3.7 to 3.4. Domestic travellers were most likely to travel by private car (78%).

Domestic tourism consists of both interstate and intrastate trips. In 1992-93 most domestic travel was intrastate (76%). Consequently, and largely because of the size of the populations, 32% of domestic trips took place in New South Wales and 1% took place in the Northern Territory.

In 1992-93 fewer people travelled to Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia than travelled from these states. Victoria generated 26% of interstate trips and received 19%, South Australia generated 10% and received 8% and Western Australia generated 4% and received 3%.

DOMESTIC TRIPS(a)

Interstate
Intrastate
Total trips
Year
'000
'000
'000

1984-85
9,996
34,824
44,820
1988-89
11,645
34,316
45,961
1992-93
11,638
36,234
47,878

(a) People aged 14 and over.

Source: Bureau of Tourism Research Domestic Tourism Monitor

DOMESTIC TRIPS(a), 1992-93

Interstate

Total trips taken in state(b)
Origin
Destination
Intrastate

State
'000
'000
'000
'000
%

New South Wales
3,745
4,261
11,080
15,341
32.0
Victoria
3,007
2,182
7,449
9,631
20.1
Queensland
1,897
2,219
8,385
10,604
22.2
South Australia
1,218
894
2,879
3,774
7.9
Western Australia
423
332
4,746
5,079
10.6
Tasmania
269
337
1,415
1,752
3.7
Northern Territory
88
319
268
587
1.2
Australian Capital Territory
992
1,093
10
1,103
2.3
Australia
11,638
11,638
36,234
47,878(c)
100.0

(a) People aged 14 and over.
(b) Number of interstate trips to a state/territory plus number of trips within the state/territory (intrastate trips).
(c) Includes destination not stated.

Source: Bureau of Tourism Research Domestic Tourism Monitor


Domestic travellers
In 1992-93 men made almost 20% more domestic trips than women. This reflects their greater likelihood of travelling on business. The most common purpose of domestic trips was pleasure/holidays (39%). A further 29% were taken to visit friends and relatives. More women than men travelled to visit their friends and relatives.

REASONS FOR DOMESTIC TRAVEL(a), 1992-93

Men
Women
Primary purpose of trip
%
%

Pleasure/holiday
36.7
41.2
Visiting friends/relatives
23.9
35.5
Business
23.5
7.9
Other(b)
15.9
15.3
Total
100.0
100.0
'000
'000
Total trips
26,063
21,815

(a) People aged 14 and over.
(b) Includes purpose not stated and other purposes not separately recorded.

Source: Bureau of Tourism Research Domestic Tourism Monitor


Domestic tourist accommodation
Domestic tourists spent an average of 4 nights away from home while travelling in 1992-93. The main type of accommodation used was a friend's or relative's house or flat (44%). Next most popular were hotels or motels (20%) and rented houses or flats (7%).

The purpose and destination of a trip affected the type of accommodation used. For example, those visiting the Northern Territory were more likely to be travelling for pleasure/holiday, and therefore less likely to have stayed with friends or relatives than those travelling in other states.

Domestic tourist expenditure1
Domestic tourists aged 14 and over spent approximately $29.3 billion in 1992. The average expenditure per trip was $395. However, this amount varied depending on the type, purpose, main destination and length of the trip. The average amount spent by those taking interstate trips was more than three times that of intrastate travellers. Business travellers spent more than those travelling for any other reason.

Domestic travellers who took a trip in Victoria spent the least amount per trip, an average of $300, while the average expenditure of those travelling in the Northern Territory was $2,066. However, people travelling to the Northern Territory were less likely to stay with friends or relatives, and more likely to use air travel and stay away for longer than people visiting other states.

Leisure activities of domestic travellers
The types of leisure activities undertaken by domestic travellers vary with factors such as main destination, the length of the trip, the purpose of the trip and the time of year that the travel takes place. Overall, leisure activities undertaken by domestic travellers are relatively expensive compared to leisure activities undertaken at home (see Leisure at Home).

In 1990-91, 78% of domestic travellers participated in leisure activities. The most popular leisure activity was swimming and surfing, undertaken by almost 2.0 million travellers (39%). The next most popular leisure activities were fishing or boating (25%), bush activities (20%), visiting a national or state park (17%), visiting heritage sites (13%) and attending sporting events (11%).

SELECTED LEISURE ACTIVITIES OF DOMESTIC TRAVELLERS(a), 1990-91(b)

Travellers
Participation
Leisure activity
'000
%

Swimming/surfing
1,962
39
Fishing/boating
1,247
25
Bush activities
1,007
20
Visiting a national/state park
824
17
Visiting heritage sites
660
13
Sporting events
536
11
Theme park
380
8
Visiting an art gallery
305
6
Attending live theatre
138
3
Attending musical/opera
75
2

(a) People aged 14 and over.
(b) December 1990-April 1991.

Source: The Australia Council Culture on Holiday, A Survey of Australian Domestic Tourists' Cultural Participation, December 1990-April 1991


Domestic day trips
Day trips are trips away from home which do not involve an overnight stay but which are of at least four hours duration. In 1992-93, 78% of Australians aged 14 and over took one or more day trips. Almost half of these people took a day trip to visit friends and relatives. Age and family type affected the type of day trip people undertook. For example, dependent children aged 14-17 were more likely than any other group to take a day trip to visit an entertainment or theme park (18%) or participate in a sporting/recreational activity (24%), while people aged 18-34 with children at home were more likely to go to animal parks, wildlife reserves or zoos (25%). People aged 55 and over who lived alone were least likely to take a day trip.

DAY TRIPS(a), 1992-93

People(b)
Participation
Type of day trip
'000
%

Visit friends or relatives
6,702
47.8
Pleasure driving (50km round trip)
6,524
46.5
Attend special events
2,469
17.6
Participate in sport/ recreational activity
2,197
15.7
Visit theatre, opera, ballet, concert or cinema
2,127
15.2
Visit animal parks, wildlife reserves, zoos
2,105
15.0
Business trip
1,597
11.4
Visit entertainment/ theme parks
1,525
10.9
Conference/seminar/ study tour or school excursion
1,494
10.7
Visit museums/art galleries
1,231
8.8
All types of day trip
10,970
78.2

(a) People aged 14 and over.
(b) People who took each type of day trip at least once in the year.

Source: Bureau of Tourism Research Domestic Tourism Monitor


Endnotes
1 Bureau of Tourism Research (1993) Domestic Tourism Expenditure 1992 Survey Results Summary.



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