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FEATURE ARTICLE: INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENTS — 2011
A traveller may cross Australia's borders many times in a year and each movement is counted in these statistics. For more information, see the 1st paragraph of the 'Permanent and Long-Term Movements' section in the main features.
Short-term visitor arrivals
Trend estimates provide the best approach to analyse the underlying direction of the short-term visitor arrivals series. From the end of 2006 to mid 2008, the series was relatively stable but has fluctuated since then due to a variety of events including: the Global Financial Crisis (GFC); continued economic uncertainty in Europe and the United States; outbreaks of the swine flu; the high Australian dollar; and natural disasters such as the recent tsunami in Japan. The highest point in the series was in December 2011 (505,000 movements) while the lowest point over the last decade was in December 2001 (389,100 movements).
Seasonally adjusted estimates
Irregular impacts on the short-term visitor arrivals series are demonstrated by the seasonally adjusted series. The above graph shows that over the ten year period ending December 2011, a number of large variations were evident for short-term visitor arrivals to Australia. Major events that have coincided with decreases in the seasonally adjusted series include the anticipation and commencement of military action in Iraq in early 2003 and the emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in mid-2003. The increase in movements in July 2008 reflects the large arrivals due to the World Youth Day held in Sydney, while the decrease in mid 2009 coincides with the Global Financial Crisis.
In original terms, 5.9 million short-term visitors arrived in Australia in the year ended December 2011. This was 10,000 less than the number of movements recorded in the year ended December 2010 (5.9 million). Ten years ago (2001), 4.9 million short-term visitors arrived in Australia.
The following table shows, for selected years, the top ten source countries (based on 2011) for short-term visitor arrivals. For each of the years, New Zealand was the largest contributor of short-term visitor arrivals to Australia (20.0% in 2011). Of the top ten source countries, short-term visitor arrivals from China recorded the strongest growth over the period with contributions of 3.3% in 2001 and 9.2% in 2011. Japan, on the other hand, showed a steady decline from a peak of 14.8% in 2002 down to 5.7% in 2011. Within the decade, Japan has dropped from second to fifth position of source countries for short-term visitor arrivals to Australia.
ORIGINAL ESTIMATES - Age and sex
When 2001 and 2011 are compared, the peak age group for all short-term visitor arrivals remained the 25-29 years age group (contributing 12.3% and 11.3% respectively). More recently, the age distribution of visitors arriving has been older, with the proportion of travellers within the 50-69 years age group increasing from 24.3% in 2001 to 27.7% in 2011. Conversely, the proportion travelling in the 25-49 years age group decreased from 49.1% in 2001 to 45.3% in 2011. The median age of all short-term visitor arrivals increased from 37.3 years in 2001 to 39.2 years in 2011.
When examined by gender, the peak age-group was the same, 25-29 years, for both male and female short-term visitors in 2011. Over time however, males had changed from 30-34 years in 2001 to 25-29 years in 2011. In addition, over time, the contribution of the peak age group declined for males from 11.4% in 2001 to 10.5% in 2011, and for female visitors, the contribution fell from 13.3% in 2001 to 12.1% in 2011. The median ages of males and females increased to 40.0 years and 38.0 years respectively in 2011. The comparative medians were 38.3 years and 36.0 years in 2001.
More males than females arrive for short-term stays in Australia but the disparity between the numbers is decreasing since a peak of 108 males in 2003. The short-term visitor arrival sex ratio (the number of male arrivals per 100 female arrivals) was 103 males in 2001 compared with 104 males in 2011. The highest sex ratios were recorded in the 35-39 years age groups in 2001 (139 males), and the 40-44 years age group in 2011 (141 males). The lowest sex ratios were in the 15-19 years age group in 2001 (75 males), and in 2011 (81 males). The following graph illustrates, for short-term visitor arrivals, the sex ratios at each age group.
ORIGINAL ESTIMATES - Main reason for journey
In the year ended December 2011, the most frequently cited main reason for journey to Australia by short-term visitor arrivals was holiday (44%). This was followed by visiting friends and relatives (24%) and business (12%). While the most cited main reasons for journey in the year ended December 2001 were the same, the proportions were different: holiday (51%), visiting friends and relatives (19%) and business (9%). The median duration of stay for all short-term visitor arrivals was 11 days in both 2001 and 2011.
ORIGINAL ESTIMATES - State of stay
New South Wales was the intended state of stay for 38% of all short-term visitors to Australia in the year ended December 2011. The other state/territory shares were Queensland with 24%, Victoria 22%, Western Australia 11%, South Australia 3%; and Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory 1% each. The intended state of stay distribution has shown changes for specific states when compared to 2001. For example, the percent share of New South Wales has declined from 41% in 2001 to 38% in 2011. On the other hand, Victoria has increased its share from 16% in 2001 to 21% in 2011.
Short-term resident departures
Trend estimates provide the best approach to analyse the underlying direction of the short-term resident departures series. The trend estimate series for short-term resident departures has shown long-term growth over the last ten years ending December 2011. From 2001 to mid 2003, the trend series, while fluctuating, changed little. From mid 2003 to June 2006, the series mainly recorded strong long-term growth. The highest point in the series, over the past ten years, was in July 2011 (658,100 movements) and the lowest point was in December 2001 (274,300 movements). Breaks were recorded in the series at October 2002, December 2003, October 2005, December 2006, April 2009 and July 2009. For further information, see paragraph 25 of the Explanatory Notes.
Seasonally adjusted estimates
The seasonally adjusted series allows for the analysis of irregular impacts on the series. During the ten years ending December 2011, the seasonally adjusted estimate has mainly recorded strong growth. From the beginning of the period through to late 2003, movements remained relatively stable, with the exception of the emergence of SARS in mid 2003. Other events that caused volatility in the seasonally adjusted series included the bombings in Bali in October 2002 and again in October 2005, the anticipation and commencement of military action in Iraq in early 2003 and the uncertainty caused by the GFC in April 2008. Strong movement in the series from late 2008 onwards coincided with the Australian Government stimulus packages of 2008 and 2009, cut price airfares and the high Australian dollar.
In original terms, there was a record 7.8 million short-term resident departures in the year ending December 2011. This compared with 7.1 million in the year ended December 2010. Ten years ago (2001), there were 3.4 million residents departing Australia short-term.
The following table presents, for selected years, the top ten destination countries (based on 2011) for short-term resident departures. While the proportion decreased for New Zealand when 2006 (17.5%) and 2011 (14.1%) were compared, it remained the main destination for short-term resident departures from Australia for each of the selected periods.
ORIGINAL ESTIMATES - Age and Sex
When 2001 and 2011 were compared the peak age group for all short-term resident departures has moved from the 40-44 years age group to the 45-49 years age group (10.5% and 9.5% respectively). In recent years, the age distribution of Australian residents travelling overseas has been older, with the proportion travelling in the 50-69 years age group increasing from 25.3% in 2001 to 28.8% in 2011. Conversely, the proportion travelling in the 25-49 years age group decreased from 50.6% in 2001 to 45.3% in 2011. The median age of all short-term resident departures was 39.8 years in 2001 compared with 40.5 years in 2011.
For male Australian residents departing overseas for a short-term stay abroad, the peak age group changed from 40-44 years in 2001 (11.6%) to 45-49 years in 2011 (10.2%). For females the peak age group of 25-29 was younger than for males but remained constant in 2001 (11.0%) and 2011 (10.1%). The median age of males and females increased in 2011 to 41.4 years and 39.4 years respectively. In 2001 the comparative medians were 40.8 years for males and 38.2 years for females.
The difference between the number of Australian male and female residents departing for short-term stays abroad is decreasing over time. The short-term resident departures sex ratio (the number of male departures per 100 female departures) was 118 males in 2001 compared with 112 males in 2011. The highest sex ratios were recorded in the 40-44 years age group in 2001 (148 males) and the 35-39 years age group in 2011 (131 males). The lowest sex ratios were in the 15-19 years age group in both 2001 (76 males) and 2011 (85 males). The age group 75 years and over has seen considerable change with the sex ratio increasing from 88 males in 2001 to 110 males in 2011. The following graph illustrates, for short-term resident departures, the sex ratios at each age group.
ORIGINAL ESTIMATES - Main reason for journey
In the year ended December 2011, the most frequently cited main reason for journey from Australia by short-term resident departures was holiday (57%), followed by visiting friends and relatives (22%) and business (10%). While the most cited main reasons for journey in the year ended December 2001 were the same, the proportions were different: holiday (44%), visiting friends and relatives (25%) and business (16%). The median duration of stay for all short-term resident departures was 15 days in both 2001 and 2011.
ORIGINAL ESTIMATES - State of residence
The largest contributors to short-term travel overseas in the year ended December 2011 were the most populous states. Residents of New South Wales contributed the highest proportion of travellers (35%), followed by Victoria (25%), Queensland (17%), Western Australia (15%), South Australia (5%), the Australian Capital Territory (2%) and Tasmania and the Northern Territory (1% each). In 2001, the state/territory of stay proportions for all short-term resident departures were similar, but some differences were recorded for specific states. New South Wales contributed 40%, Queensland 15% and Western Australia 12% of all short-term resident departures in 2001.
ORIGINAL ESTIMATES - Movement rates
In the year ended December 2011, there was considerable variation in the rate of movement for short-term resident departures (the number of movements per 1,000 state or territory population) across the states and territories. Western Australia had the highest movement rate (494 movements per 1,000 population) followed by the Australian Capital Territory (406), New South Wales (371), the Northern Territory (365), Victoria (340), Queensland (292), South Australia (216) and Tasmania (168). Overall, the Australian movement rate for short-term resident departures was 345 movements per 1,000 population.
The above presentation of movements in estimates does not take into account whether the change in movement is statistically significant. Care should be taken when interpreting the impact of numeric and/or percentage change. Please see the Standard Errors section of this issue for more detail.
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