3401.0 - Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, Jul 2019 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/09/2019   
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International travel - short-term resident returns to Australia - 2018-19

Statistics on travel movements of residents arriving back in Australia after short term trips (i.e. less than 1 year) overseas. It is the number of international border crossings rather than the number of people.

Key statistics

In 2018-19, there were 11.2 million short-term resident returns to Australia from overseas, the highest year on record.

  • New Zealand continues to be the leading destination country for Australians travelling overseas, with over 1.4 million trips
  • Indonesia was the leading destination for those living in SA, WA & the NT
  • The main reason for travel was holiday (57%)
  • Nationally the median duration away was 15 days.

Short-term resident returns

The record annual 11.2 million resident trips in 2018-19 was 5.4 million more than 10 years earlier and 472,000 more than 1 year ago. There has generally been an ongoing increase of Australian residents travelling overseas over recent decades. However, decreases were experienced due to various historical events such as the:
  • early 1990s recession in Australia
  • September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001
  • Bali bombings in 2002
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak from 2002
  • Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008.

2.1 Short-term resident returns, Australia — June 1979 to June 2019 — year ending
Graph: 2.1 Short-term resident returns, Australia — June 1979 to June 2019 — year ending

Destination countries

Australians travelled to all four corners of the globe during 2018-19:

  • New Zealand (1.44 million trips) remained the leading destination country
  • Indonesia moved from fourth to second over the last decade (1.31 million - an increase of 198%)
  • The USA (1.08 million) was the third leading destination but had a lower level than its peak in December 2018.

2.2 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Top 5 destination countries(a) — June 1979 to June 2019 — year ending
Graph: 2.2 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Top 5 destination countries(a) — June 1979 to June 2019 — year ending
(a) Top 5 destination countries based on year ending June 2019.
(b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

Among the top 10 destination countries, the strongest growth over the last decade was for Australians visiting Asian countries (Table 2.3 below).

2.3 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Top 10 destination countries(a) — 2018-19 — year ending

'000
2017-18 to 2018-19
2008-09 to 2018-19
Destination Country
% change
% change

New Zealand
1 444
1.9
51.2
Indonesia
1 311
8.3
197.8
USA
1 079
-0.4
108.0
UK(b)
668
3.7
43.7
China
611
6.8
138.7
Thailand
565
-2.7
48.5
Japan
484
10.4
226.8
India
416
8.6
206.3
Singapore
405
-0.6
85.5
Fiji
345
1.5
51.2

(a) Top 10 destination countries based on year ending June 2019.
(b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

State or Territory of residence

All travellers are asked their intended address in Australia upon arrival. The proportion of short-term resident returns by their state or territory of residence in 2018-19, were as follows:
  • NSW (34% of all short-term resident returns)
  • Vic. (28%)
  • Qld (18%)
  • SA (4%)
  • WA (12%)
  • Tas. (1.0%)
  • NT (0.8%)
  • ACT (2%).

In 2008-09 this pattern was very similar with a slightly higher proportion of those travelling overseas from NSW (36%) and WA (14%).

2.4 Short-term resident returns, Australia — State/Territory of Residence — 2008-09 and 2018-19
Graph: 2.4 Short-term resident returns, Australia — State/Territory of Residence — 2008-09 and 2018-19

At the state and territory level, the mix of destination countries varied from that at the national level.

During 2018-19:
  • New Zealand was the leading destination country for residents of NSW, Vic., Qld, Tas. and the ACT
  • Indonesia was the leading destination for those from SA, WA and the NT.

Ten years earlier in 2008-09, New Zealand was the leading destination for residents of all State and Territories except for WA and the NT (with Indonesia).

Age and sex

There were more trips taken overseas by Australian men than women in 2018-19 (5.8 million men compared with 5.4 million women), similar to 2008-09 (3.1 million men and 2.8 million women).

In 2018-19, Australian men and women travelling overseas had a similar median age (42 years and 41 years respectively). Among those aged 18 to 30, there were more trips undertaken by women than men.


2.5 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Age and Sex — 2018-19
Graph: 2.5 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Age and Sex — 2018-19
Main reason for journey

In 2018-19, the most frequently stated main reason for journey by Australian residents returning home after a short-term trip was:

  • holiday (57%)
  • visiting friends and relatives (26%)
  • business (8%).

Female residents were more likely than males to record their main reason as a holiday (29% compared with 28%), and visiting friends and relatives (13% compared with 12%). Male residents were more likely to travel overseas for business (6% compared with 2% for females).

Duration of stay

For Australian residents returning from overseas their exact duration away is measured.

During 2018-19, the median duration away for Australians on a short-term trip was 15 days. However, this varies between the states and territories and between the numerous destination countries. It also varies greatly depending on a traveller's main reason for journey.

In 2018-19, the median duration away overseas for South Australians and Tasmanians was 16 days, whereas for those from WA and the NT it was 13 days. Those travelling to the UK were usually away for an average of 25 days which was longer than all the other top 10 destinations. Those travelling to Fiji and New Zealand were away for 8 days on average.

2.6 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Top 10 destination countries(a) by State/Territory of Residence — Median duration of stay — 2018-19

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.(b)
days
days
days
days
days
days
days
days
days

UK(c)
25
25
27
28
24
30
27
27
25
India
23
26
24
27
23
19
27
24
24
China
17
18
15
18
16
16
14
18
17
USA
15
16
17
18
20
19
17
16
16
Japan
14
15
14
16
15
15
16
15
15
Thailand
12
12
13
12
12
13
13
12
12
Indonesia
11
10
10
10
8
12
9
10
10
Singapore
8
9
9
10
8
12
6
8
9
New Zealand
7
8
9
11
13
11
11
8
8
Fiji
8
9
8
8
9
9
12
8
8
All countries
15
15
14
16
13
16
13
15
15

(a) Top 10 destination countries are based at the Australia level.
(b) Includes Other Territories.
(c) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

The duration of stay of short-term trips by Australian residents going overseas varied by their reason for journey:
  • Those travelling for employment stayed away the longest (25 days)
  • visiting friends and relatives (21 days)
  • holiday (14 days)
  • business travellers stayed the shortest (7 days).