Overseas visitor arrivals down by 98 per cent in 2020-21

Media Release

There were 151,000 overseas visitor arrivals to Australia travelling for a short-term trip in the 2020-21 financial year, a decrease of 98 per cent from the previous year, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Director of Migration Statistics, Jenny Dobak said “For the year ending June 2021, there were 6.6 million fewer visitor arrivals travelling to Australia for a short-term trip than the year before. This fall can be attributed to the impact of COVID-19 on international travel throughout the year.”

“In the year prior to the pandemic (2019), there was a record high of 9.5 million visitors arriving to Australia, almost half (47 per cent) of whom recorded ‘holiday’ as their main reason for journey. In contrast, during the pandemic (2020-21), ‘visiting friends and relatives’ (54 per cent) was the main reason for journey” she said.

Of the 151,000 short-term visitor arrivals, the majority (84,000) were those who had travelled from New Zealand through the arrangements of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble.

The ABS has produced new graphs and tables to highlight the total volume of arrivals and departures to the country while border restrictions are in place. This new table shows the breakdown by each of the categories of arrivals including both short and long-term trips.

Arrivals and departures by category of travel - monthly change(a)
 June-19June-20May-21June-21May 21 to Jun 21
Category of travel(no.)(no.)(no.)(no.)Change (no.)
Permanent arrivals(b)9,0609803,7003,680-20
Australian resident returns(c)     
Overseas visitor arrivals(d)     
TOTAL ARRIVALS1,562,13025,120114,520102,480-12,040

(a) Category of travel data is not available from provisional estimates.
(b) Permanent arrivals (settlers) comprise: travellers who hold permanent visas, New Zealand citizens who indicate on their passenger card an intention to migrate permanently, and those who are otherwise identified as eligible to settle.
(c) Australian resident includes Australian citizens, permanent visa holders residing in Australia, and any New Zealand citizens who can be identified as a resident.
(d) An overseas visitor is any traveller arriving to, or departing from, Australia who is not an Australian resident or permanent arrival. 
NOTE: Long-term has a duration of stay of 12 months or more. Short-term has a duration of stay of less than 12 months.


Provisional estimates for July 2021 are now also available in Graphs 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 of the publication. Additional provisional data are available under the Data downloads section for State of clearance (Table 13), Country of citizenship (Table 14), and Visa Group (Table 15).

Further details can be found in Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia - June 2021 (cat. no. 3401.0) available on the ABS website https://www.abs.gov.au

Media notes

  • Short-term trip has a duration of stay of less than 12 months.
  • Long-term trip has a duration of stay of 12 months or more.
  • Information on ABS products being produced to measure the impact of COVID-19 on Australia can be found on the ABS website.
  • When reporting ABS data, you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via media@abs.gov.au (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.
Back to top of the page