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Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia

Statistics on international travel arriving in and departing from Australia.

Reference period
December 2021
Released
17/02/2022

Key statistics

In December 2021:

  • Total arrivals: 195,760 – a monthly increase of 123,520 trips. 

  • Total departures: 227,230 – a monthly increase of 136,130 trips. 

These statistics report on the number of international border crossings rather than the number of people. Most data in this release are rounded to the nearest 10. As a result, sums of components may not add exactly to totals.

Overseas Migration Statistics

This release presents statistics on all overseas arrivals and departures, which is not the same as overseas migration statistics.

If you are looking for ABS statistics on overseas migration, please refer to:

Arrivals and departures

(a) Provisional data for the most recent month has not had the full quality assurance methods applied as is done for the earlier months. Provisional data will be revised in the next issue of this publication.

(a) Provisional data for the most recent month has not had the full quality assurance methods applied as is done for the earlier months. Provisional data will be revised in the next issue of this publication.

Provisional Estimates

To provide more timely travel data in response to COVID-19, provisional estimates for total overseas arrivals and total overseas departures are now included in Graphs 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3. Additional provisional data are available under the Data downloads for State of clearance (Table 13), Country of citizenship (Table 14), and Visa group (Table 15). No further breakdowns of provisional data are available, other than those which appear in this release.

(a) Provisional data for the most recent month has not had the full quality assurance methods applied as is done for the earlier months. Provisional estimates will be revised in the next issue of this publication.

1.4 Arrivals and departures by category of travel - monthly change(a)
 Dec-19Dec-20Nov-21Dec-21Monthly change Nov 21 to Dec 21
Category of travel(no.)(no.)(no.)(no.)(no.)
Permanent arrivals(b)7,8102,8906,64011,3904,750
Australian resident returns(c)     
         long-term21,8506,85013,46025,97012,510
         short-term749,66014,30025,89052,75026,850
Overseas visitor arrivals(d)     
         long-term32,2501,8205,39032,60027,210
         short-term1,077,7208,82020,86073,05052,190
TOTAL ARRIVALS1,889,30034,67072,250195,760123,520
Australian resident departures(c)     
         long-term29,3902,42011,19018,5807,400
         short-term1,304,48015,80061,480167,410105,930
Overseas Visitor departures(d)     
         long-term35,2908,60014,19028,22014,030
         short-term871,18022,2704,24013,0108,760
TOTAL DEPARTURES2,240,34049,10091,100227,230136,130

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.
NOTE: Long-term are travellers who have been away or in Australia for 12 months or more. Short-term are travellers who have been away or in Australia for less than 12 months.

Visitor arrivals - short-term

Compares international visitor arrivals each month by source country and change at the state and territory level. Analysis in this section is undertaken on short-term trips (less than 1 year).

For visitor arrivals to Australia:

  • A total of 73,050 short-term trips were recorded, an increase of 64,230 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
  • December 2021 trips decreased 93.2% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.
  • The UK was the largest source country, accounting for 17% of all visitor arrivals.

Countries where visitors came from

The three leading source countries where visitors came from were:

  • The UK (12,440 trips)
  • Singapore (9,180)
  • India (7,520).

Details

(a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
(b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

2.3 Short-term visitor arrivals - Top 10 source countries(a)
Country of ResidenceDec 2019 (no.)Dec 2020 (no.)Nov 2021 (no.)Dec 2021 (no.)Nov 2021 to Dec 2021 change
UK118,5308802,79012,4409,650
Singapore56,3004703,1709,1806,010
India44,6403202,3107,5205,200
USA99,9001,0001,7107,3905,680
New Zealand143,5302,5201,0603,8002,730
China(b)111,8003201,0302,7401,720
Canada23,9401504201,7001,280
Germany29,3801103101,6001,290
France16,9501103101,4101,100
Korea, South31,260602001,2701,060

(a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
(b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

State or territory of stay

All travellers are asked their intended address in Australia upon arrival. For December 2021, the highest number of visitor arrivals was observed for New South Wales (54,540) whilst the Northern Territory recorded the fewest (140). 

Details

    2.4 Short-term visitor arrivals, State or territory of stay - December 2021

    Short-term visitor arrivals, State or territory of stay - December 2021

    2.4 Short-term visitor arrivals, State or territory of stay - December 2021

    Data is shown in Table 2.5 below
    2.5 Short-term visitor arrivals, State or territory of stay
    State or territory of stayDec 2019 (no.)Dec 2020 (no.)Nov 2021 (no.)Dec 2021 (no.)Nov 2021 to Dec 2021 change
    NSW388,7104,72015,73054,54038,810
    Vic.299,5601,6202,97012,97010,010
    Qld212,0501,1006501,6801,030
    SA33,300220230830600
    WA111,8006806901,350660
    Tas.14,900300210520310
    NT4,4804012014020
    ACT12,9201402801,030750
    Australia(a)1,077,7208,82020,86073,05052,190

    (a) Includes Other Territories.
     

    Visitor arrivals - short-term - state and territory

    Compares international visitor arrivals each month by source country for each state and territory. The additional information is being provided during the COVID-19 pandemic. Analyses in this section are undertaken on short-term trips (less than 1 year) unless otherwise stated.

    New South Wales

    For visitor arrivals to New South Wales:

    • There were 54,540 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 49,820 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 86% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Countries where visitors came from

    The three leading source countries for New South Wales were:

    • The UK (9,800 trips)
    • Singapore (7,380)
    • The USA (5,650).

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    3.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, NSW - Top 10 source countries(a)
    Country of ResidenceDec 2019 (no.)Dec 2020 (no.)Nov 2021 (no.)Dec 2021 (no.)Nov 2021 to Dec 2021 change
    UK41,9704902,2509,8007,560
    Singapore12,9203302,5207,3804,860
    USA53,8805601,3105,6504,340
    India14,5601601,5704,9103,330
    New Zealand40,0101,3808302,9402,110
    China(b)40,4201507101,7801,080
    Canada10,250703001,190890
    Germany11,840502301,160930
    France7,840702501,160910
    Nepal3,280101101,010900

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.
     

    Long-term visitor arrivals

    For visitors arriving in New South Wales for a long-term trip (1 year or more):

    • There were 24,200 arrivals, an increase of 23,180 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals increased 99.8% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Victoria

    For visitor arrivals to Victoria:

    • There were 12,970 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 11,350 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 95.7% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Countries where visitors came from

    The three leading source countries for Victoria were:

    • India (2,020 trips)
    • The UK (1,900)
    • Singapore (1,410).

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    4.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, Vic. - Top 10 source countries(a)
    Country of ResidenceDec 2019 (no.)Dec 2020 (no.)Nov 2021 (no.)Dec 2021 (no.)Nov 2021 to Dec 2021 change
    India19,140604402,0201,570
    UK25,0701303001,9001,600
    Singapore16,830505001,410910
    USA21,9401802201,2401,020
    China(b)42,150130220670450
    New Zealand47,770630160470310
    Malaysia13,9801070360290
    Germany6,9104050340290
    Canada5,7703070310240
    Sri Lanka4,2101090290200

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    Long-term visitor arrivals

    For visitors arriving in Victoria for a long-term trip (1 year or more):

    • There were 5,810 arrivals, an increase of 5,510 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 41.7% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Queensland

    For visitor arrivals to Queensland:

    • There were 1,680 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 580 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 99.2% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Countries where visitors came from

    The three leading source countries for Queensland were:

    • New Zealand (210 trips)
    • The UK (190)
    • India (170).

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    5.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, Qld - Top 10 source countries(a)
    Country of ResidenceDec 2019 (no.)Dec 2020 (no.)Nov 2021 (no.)Dec 2021 (no.)Nov 2021 to Dec 2021 change
    New Zealand41,86031030210180
    UK20,2401209019090
    India5,020409017080
    USA13,5801306011050
    China(b)17,830303010070
    Philippines1,860204010060
    Canada4,67020308050
    Samoa540006060
    PNG3,970120305020
    Japan22,0001004040

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    Long-term visitor arrivals

    For visitors arriving in Queensland for a long-term trip (1 year or more):

    • There were 810 arrivals, an increase of 610 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 81.7% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    South Australia

    For visitor arrivals to South Australia:

    • There were 830 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 610 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 97.5% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Countries where visitors came from

    The three leading source countries for South Australia were:

    • India (150 trips)
    • The UK (140)
    • The USA (90).

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    6.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, SA- Top 10 source countries(a)
    Country of ResidenceDec 2019 (no.)Dec 2020 (no.)Nov 2021 (no.)Dec 2021 (no.)Nov 2021 to Dec 2021 change
    India1,980105015090
    UK5,6403030140110
    USA2,42040209070
    China(b)3,46010206040
    Canada7601004030
    New Zealand3,0005003030
    Singapore1,63010102020
    Japan670002020
    Philippines4600102010
    Korea, South400002020

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    Long-term visitor arrivals

    For visitors arriving in South Australia for a long-term trip (1 year or more):

    • There were 580 arrivals, an increase of 530 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 55.3% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Western Australia

    For visitor arrivals to Western Australia:

    • There were 1,350 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 670 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 98.8% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Countries where visitors came from

    The three leading source countries for Western Australia were:

    • Singapore (240 trips)
    • The UK (220)
    • India (110).

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    7.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, WA - Top 10 source countries(a)
    Country of ResidenceDec 2019 (no.)Dec 2020 (no.)Nov 2021 (no.)Dec 2021 (no.)Nov 2021 to Dec 2021 change
    Singapore12,36040100240140
    UK22,9708080220140
    India2,690409011020
    USA4,790504011070
    New Zealand7,75080209070
    China(b)4,5000305020
    Philippines1,310206040-20
    Germany3,17010104030
    Canada1,65010103020
    France1,61010103020

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    Long-term visitor arrivals

    For visitors arriving in Western Australia for a long-term trip (1 year or more):

    • There were 240 arrivals, an increase of 100 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 92% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Tasmania

    For visitor arrivals to Tasmania:

    • There were 520 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 220 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 96.5% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Countries where visitors came from

    The three leading source countries for Tasmania were:

    • Vanuatu (160 trips)
    • The UK (50)
    • The USA (40).

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    8.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, Tas. - Top 10 source countries(a)
    Country of ResidenceDec 2019 (no.)Dec 2020 (no.)Nov 2021 (no.)Dec 2021 (no.)Nov 2021 to Dec 2021 change
    Vanuatu70040160120
    UK1,0601005040
    USA9801004040
    Singapore2,510003030
    Samoa10014020-110
    China(b)1,120002020
    India290002020
    New Zealand1,5602002020
    Canada360001010
    Korea, South180001010

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    Long-term visitor arrivals

    For visitors arriving in Tasmania for a long-term trip (1 year or more):

    • There were 190 arrivals, an increase of 180 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 55.5% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Northern Territory

    For visitor arrivals to the Northern Territory:

    • There were 140 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 100 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 96.9% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Long-term visitor arrivals

    For visitors arriving in the Northern Territory for a long-term trip (1 year or more):

    • There were 90 arrivals, an increase of 70 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 72.4% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

     

    Due to volatility in the very small number of movements caused by COVID-19, no further analysis has been undertaken.

    Australian Capital Territory

    For visitor arrivals to the Australian Capital Territory:

    • There were 1,030 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 880 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 92.1% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Countries where visitors came from

    The three leading source countries for the Australian Capital Territory were:

    • Korea, South (150 trips)
    • The USA (130)
    • India (130).

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    10.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, ACT- Top 10 source countries(a)
    Country of ResidenceDec 2019 (no.)Dec 2020 (no.)Nov 2021 (no.)Dec 2021 (no.)Nov 2021 to Dec 2021 change
    Korea, South330010150140
    USA1,460304013090
    India80005013070
    UK1,320202011090
    China(b)2,1900206040
    Singapore39010205030
    Thailand1000103020
    New Zealand1,34030103020
    Canada3100103020
    Vietnam180002020

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending December 2021.
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    Long-term visitor arrivals

    For visitors arriving in the Australian Capital Territory for a long-term trip (1 year or more):

    • There were 680 arrivals, an increase of 610 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 7.1% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    Visitor arrivals - short-term - Calendar year 2021

    Compares annual international travel arrivals over time by source country, by state and territory, by age and sex, by main reason for journey and by median duration of trip. All analysis in this section is done on short-term trips (less than 1 year).

    For the most recent analysis by financial year see the Article Archive section at the bottom of the lefthand navigation bar.

    Visitors arriving in Australia in 2021:

    • There were 245,770 visitor arrivals, down 86.6% on the previous year
    • New Zealand was the largest source country, accounting for 96,830 visitors nationally
    • The main reason for travel was 'Visiting friends/relatives' (60.1%). A year ago it was 'Holiday' (43.2%)
    • Nationally, the median duration of stay in Australia was 30 days.

    Effects of COVID-19 outbreak

    On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. Initially the Australian Government placed travel restrictions on those travelling to Australia from mainland China commencing 1 February 2020 and restrictions on other countries soon followed. From 20 March 2020, all overseas travel was banned, with few exceptions. The pandemic has continued to disrupt international travel with volumes at a record low in 2021.

    From 1 November 2021, the Australian Government began to ease international travel restrictions with some fully vaccinated groups. Initially, Australian citizens and permanent residents were permitted to travel to and from Australia without exemption. This was then extended to citizens from additional countries and eligible visa holders.

    Annual visitor arrivals

    There were 245,770 visitor arrivals in 2021. This was down 86.6% on the previous year with 1.6 million fewer arrivals.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in substantial declines in travel movements since the introduction of border restrictions in March 2020. International travel restrictions began to ease in November 2021, resulting in an increase in arrivals. 

    11.1 Short-term visitor arrivals by month
    2021'000Change ('000)(a)
    Jan7.99-758.6
    Feb6.26-679.15
    Mar8.32-323.57
    Apr22.6120.36
    May36.1932.75
    Jun36.7731.38
    Jul18.7515.23
    Aug6.243.21
    Sep4.410.7
    Oct4.31-1.77
    Nov20.8613.29
    Dec73.0564.23
    Annual Total245.77-1,581.95

    (a) Numerical change when compared to the same period of the previous year.

     

    Visitor arrivals to Australia have generally been increasing over recent decades, with a strong continuous increase in the ten years up to 2019. However, due to the impact of COVID-19, a substantial decline has been observed from February 2020 onwards.

    Peaks were seen during the:

    • Brisbane Expo in 1988
    • Sydney Olympics in 2000.

    Decreases were experienced during the:

    • Asian financial crisis in 1998
    • 2001 September 11 attacks in the USA
    • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003
    • Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008
    • global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

    Countries where visitors came from

    Travel restrictions have resulted in a change in the source countries of visitors to Australia.

    In 2021:

    • Short-term visitor arrivals for all top 5 source countries are lower when compared with the previous year, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
    • New Zealand (96,830 visits) was the largest source country for visitor arrivals
    • The UK (21,810) was the second largest.

    In 2020, New Zealand was the largest and China the second largest.

    (a) Top 5 source countries based on year ending December 2021.

    Among the top 10 source countries, there was strong growth from Asian countries over the last decade. Recent declines for these countries are due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Annual arrivals of visitors travelling for a short-term trip dropped by 9.2 million since 2019. China saw the largest drop (1.4 million) of any country in 2021.

    At the beginning of the decade China had recorded strong annual growth rates in the number of visitors arriving for a short-term trip, averaging 18 percent per year. In 2019, this had slowed to 0.5 percent. This decline of growth was before any travel restrictions were put in place due to COVID-19.

    Pacific Islanders made up a larger proportion of Australia’s arrivals than in previous years. A combination of the drop in arrivals from all other countries and the use of seasonal worker programs to cover labour shortages meant the Pacific nation of Vanuatu was higher than usual on the list of source countries.

    11.4 Short-term visitor arrivals, Australia — Top 10 source countries(a) — 2021
    Country of Residence'0002020 to 2021 change ('000)2011 to 2021 change ('000)
    New Zealand96.83-145.63-1,069.98
    UK21.81-178.99-615.55
    USA16.66-172.03-452.61
    Singapore15.82-42.49-250.37
    India12.9-71.08-136.26
    China(b)6.48-201.22-534.06
    Vanuatu4.80.98-5.43
    Philippines4.44-22.11-61.45
    Canada3.28-49.02-127.53
    Hong Kong3.12-57.8-150.87
    ALL COUNTRIES245.77-1581.95-5626.54

    (a) Top 10 source countries based on year ending December 2021.
    (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    State or territory of stay

    All travellers are asked their intended address in Australia upon arrival. 

    Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, state borders and airports have been closed to international visitors at different times.

    The proportion of Australia's short-term visitor arrivals by intended state or territory in 2021 were as follows:

    • NSW (56.8% of all short-term visitors)
    • Vic. (15.1%)
    • Qld (17.3%)
    • SA (2.0%)
    • WA (5.4%)
    • Tas. (1.2%)
    • NT (1.0%)
    • ACT (1.2%). 

    All states recorded growth in international visitors in the ten year period up to early 2020. In comparison, the territories experienced fluctuations in visitor numbers, particularly the Northern Territory. All states and territories observed a considerable drop in visitor numbers in 2021.

    At the state and territory level, the mix of source countries varies from that at the national level. During 2021:

    • Due to the trans-Tasman travel bubble, New Zealand provided the most visitors to all states except the NT
    • The USA was the largest provider of visitors to the NT

    Ten years earlier in 2011, New Zealand was the leading source country for NSW, Vic., Qld, SA, and Tas. However, the USA was the leading source country for the NT and ACT, and the UK was the leading source country for WA.

    Age and sex

    There were more visits to Australia by men than women in 2021 (130,380 men compared with 115,390 women). The same was true in 2011 (3.0 million men and 2.8 million women).

    In 2021 male visitors had a median age of 40 years, whereas female visitors had a median age of 45 years. The largest group of visitor arrivals was aged between 25 and 29 years, with the largest source country for this age group being New Zealand.

    Main reason for journey

    In 2021, the most frequently stated main reason for journey by short-term visitors to Australia was:

    • Visiting friends/relatives (60.1%)
    • Employment (9.3%)
    • Holiday (8.7%)

    (a) As a percentage of all short-term visitor arrivals.

    Female visitors were more likely than males to record their main reason for journey as ‘visiting friends or relatives’ or ‘holiday’. Male visitors were more likely to record ‘business’ or ‘employment’.

    During the pandemic and associated travel restrictions there has been an increase in travellers recording ‘Other’ as their main reason for journey. 

    11.8 Short-term visitor arrivals, Australia — Main reason for journey and Sex — 2021
    Males (%)Females (%)
    Visiting friends/relatives49.671.9
    Employment13.34.7
    Business12.93.5
    Holiday8.49.0
    Education3.43.4
    Convention/conference0.90.7
    Exhibition0.10.1
    Other11.36.7
    Total100.0100.0

    Duration of stay

    Visitors are asked their intended duration in Australia upon arrival.

    During 2021, the median duration of stay in Australia had increased to 30 days from 14 days the year before. This is due to the impact of COVID-19 on travel behaviour and a much smaller volume of travellers making the data more volatile.

    The median duration varied between the states and territories and between the numerous source countries.

    11.9 Short-term visitor arrivals, Australia — Top 10 source countries(a) by State/Territory of stay — Median duration of stay (days) — 2021
    NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACTAust.(b)
    Vanuatu2742742742742742742149274
    India92105161225092319292
    China (c)9292919292929212292
    Hong Kong616261816188926161
    Canada424391626760213951
    UK373661616161624241
    USA303161425045713431
    Phillapines319115912115629131
    Singapore272261493830623128
    New Zealand111110131610201111
    All countries313115403157613530

    (a) Top 10 source countries have been calculated at the Australia level.
    (b) Includes Other Territories.
    (c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    In 2021, among the states and territories the median duration was the:

    • highest in the NT at 61 days (or 2 months as recorded on the passenger card)
    • lowest in Qld at 15 days.

    Those from Vanuatu (with a median duration of stay of 9 months) stated much longer intended durations of stay than most others, but this also varied between the states and territories. Many of these visitors were seasonal workers.

    Those from New Zealand only visited for 11 days on average, but this was up from 7 days recorded from the year before.

    The median duration of stay of short-term visitors to Australia varied according to reason for journey. Those travelling for:

    • education and employment (both 182 days) stayed the longest
    • exhibition (40 days)
    • visiting friends/relatives (30 days)
    • business (26 days)
    • a holiday (13 days)
    • a convention/conference stayed the shortest (12 days).

    Arrivals - international students

    Compares international student arrivals each month by visa type for each state and territory and nationally. It includes both those whose intended duration is short-term (less than 1 year) or long-term (1 year or more). The additional information is being provided during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Australia

    • In December 2021 there were 29,140 international student arrivals to Australia, an increase of 28,910 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 24.7% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    (a) International student visa holders whether it be for a short-term (less than 1 year) or long-term (1 year or more) duration.
    This is not the same as when a traveller self reports 'education' as their main reason for journey.
    (b) English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students.

    New South Wales

    • In December 2021 there were 21,560 international student arrivals to New South Wales, an increase of 21,410 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals increased 72.3% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    (a) International student visa holders whether it be for a short-term (less than 1 year) or long-term (1 year or more) duration.
    This is not the same as when a traveller self reports 'education' as their main reason for journey.
    (b) English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students.

    Victoria

    • In December 2021 there were 5,540 international student arrivals to Victoria, an increase of 5,510 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 60.4% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    (a) International student visa holders whether it be for a short-term (less than 1 year) or long-term (1 year or more) duration.
    This is not the same as when a traveller self reports 'education' as their main reason for journey.
    (b) English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students.

    Queensland

    • In December 2021 there were 590 international student arrivals to Queensland, an increase of 560 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 90.8% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    (a) International student visa holders whether it be for a short-term (less than 1 year) or long-term (1 year or more) duration.
    This is not the same as when a traveller self reports 'education' as their main reason for journey.
    (b) English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students.

    South Australia

    • In December 2021 there were 520 international student arrivals to South Australia, an increase of 510 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 68.8% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    (a) International student visa holders whether it be for a short-term (less than 1 year) or long-term (1 year or more) duration.
    This is not the same as when a traveller self reports 'education' as their main reason for journey.
    (b) English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students.

    Western Australia

    • In December 2021 there were 130 international student arrivals to Western Australia, an increase of 120 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 94.2% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    (a) International student visa holders whether it be for a short-term (less than 1 year) or long-term (1 year or more) duration.
    This is not the same as when a traveller self reports 'education' as their main reason for journey.
    (b) English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students.

    Tasmania

    • In December 2021 there were 140 international student arrivals to Tasmania, an increase of 140 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 71.3% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    (a) International student visa holders whether it be for a short-term (less than 1 year) or long-term (1 year or more) duration.
    This is not the same as when a traveller self reports 'education' as their main reason for journey.
    (b) English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students.

    Northern Territory

    • In December 2021 there were 60 international student arrivals to the Northern Territory, an increase of 50 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 69.2% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    (a) International student visa holders whether it be for a short-term (less than 1 year) or long-term (1 year or more) duration.
    This is not the same as when a traveller self reports 'education' as their main reason for journey.
    (b) English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students.

    Australian Capital Territory

    • In December 2021 there were 610 international student arrivals to the Australian Capital Territory, an increase of 610 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 arrivals decreased 45.2% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.

    (a) International student visa holders whether it be for a short-term (less than 1 year) or long-term (1 year or more) duration.
    This is not the same as when a traveller self reports 'education' as their main reason for journey.
    (b) English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students.

    Resident returns - short-term

    Compares international resident returns each month by destination country and change at the state and territory level. Analysis in this section is undertaken on short-term trips (less than 1 year).

    For residents returning from overseas:

    • A total of 52,750 short-term trips were recorded, an increase of 38,450 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • December 2021 trips decreased 93.0% when compared with pre-COVID levels in December 2019.
    • Fiji was the most popular destination country, accounting for 15% of all resident returns.

    Destination countries

    The three leading destination countries residents returned from were:

    • Fiji (8,080 trips)
    • The USA (6,640)
    • The UK (5,610).

    Details

    (a) Top 10 destination countries based on month ending December 2021.

    13.3 Short-term resident returns - Top 10 destination countries(a)
    Country of StayDec 2019 (no.)Dec 2020 (no.)Nov 2021 (no.)Dec 2021 (no.)Nov 2021 to Dec 2021 change
    Fiji27,10090608,0808,010
    USA69,7801,1803,6706,6402,970
    UK33,9501,2403,4105,6102,200
    India34,6308901,6104,3602,750
    Singapore34,8706601,2602,7701,500
    New Zealand123,5402,1902,2002,580380
    Unit Arab Emir6,0402501,1301,750610
    Thailand32,2801604301,6201,190
    Pakistan3,2602305801,230640
    Sri Lanka6,7101204201,070660

    (a) Top 10 destination countries based on month ending December 2021.

    State or territory of residence

    All travellers are asked their intended address in Australia upon arrival.  For December 2021, the highest number of resident returns were observed for New South Wales (41,770) whilst the Northern Territory recorded the fewest (80). 

    Details

      13.4 Short-term resident returns, State or territory of residence - December 2021

      Short-term resident returns, State or territory of residence - December 2021

      13.4 Short-term resident returns, State or territory of residence - December 2021

      Data is shown in Table 13.5 below
      13.5 Short-term resident returns, State or territory of residence
      State or territory of residenceDec 2019 (no.)Dec 2020 (no.)Nov 2021 (no.)Dec 2021 (no.)Nov 2021 to Dec 2021 change
      NSW244,3307,27020,44041,77021,330
      Vic.195,3403,1803,1107,3704,260
      Qld156,0201,9208501,570720
      SA32,460390340520180
      WA93,7701,070700610-90
      Tas.6,94011060160100
      NT6,6506080800
      ACT14,020290310670360
      Australia(a)749,66014,30025,89052,75026,850

      (a) Includes Other Territories.
       

      Resident returns - short-term - Calendar year 2021

      Compares annual international travel for resident returns over time by destination country, by state and territory, by age and sex, by main reason for journey and by median duration of trip. All analysis in this section is done on short-term trips (less than 1 year).

      For the most recent analysis by financial year see the Article Archive section at the bottom of the lefthand navigation bar. 

      Australian residents returning to Australia in 2021:

      • There were 300,380 resident returns from overseas, down 89.4% on the previous year and the lowest calendar year on record.
      • New Zealand continued to be the leading destination country for Australians travelling overseas, accounting for 159,760 trips nationally
      • The main reason for travel was 'visiting friends/relatives' (53.4%)
      • Nationally, the median duration away was 17 days.

      Effects of COVID-19 outbreak

      On 30 January 2020 the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. Initially the Australian Government placed travel restrictions on those travelling to Australia from mainland China commencing 1 February 2020 and restrictions on other countries soon followed. From 20 March 2020, all overseas travel was banned, with few exceptions. The pandemic has continued to disrupt international travel with volumes at a record low in 2021.

      From 1 November 2021, the Australian Government began to ease international travel restrictions with some fully vaccinated groups. Initially, Australian citizens and permanent residents were permitted to travel to and from Australia without exemption. This was then extended to citizens from additional countries and eligible visa holders.

      Annual resident returns

      There were 300,380 resident trips overseas in 2021. This was down 89.4% on the previous year with 2.5 million fewer trips taken. This was the lowest annual number of resident trips in a calendar year on record. 

      The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in substantial declines in travel movements since the introduction of border restrictions in March 2020. International travel restrictions began to ease in November 2021, resulting in an increase in resident returns.

      14.1 Short-term resident returns by month
      2021'000Change ('000)(a)
      Jan11.35-1,386.07
      Feb8.39-777
      Mar9.25-529.11
      Apr16.99-0.06
      May62.3648.98
      Jun50.4934.74
      Jul41.831.51
      Aug10.312.24
      Sep6.02-2.14
      Oct4.76-6.4
      Nov25.8912.9
      Dec52.7538.45
      Annual Total300.38-2,531.97

      (a) Numerical change when compared to the same period of the previous year

       

      Australian residents travelling overseas have generally been increasing over recent decades, with a number of decreases observed over time 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 in 2003
      • Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008
      • global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

       

      A substantial decline has been observed from March 2020 onward due to the impact of COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, there were 11.4 million resident trips overseas in the year ending February 2020.

      Destination countries

      In 2021: 

      • Short-term resident returns for all top 5 destination countries continue to be low due to the impact of COVID-19
      • New Zealand (159,760 trips) was the leading destination country
      • The USA (17,140) was the second most popular destination
      • The UK (14,580) was the third leading destination.

      (a) Top 5 destination countries based on year ending December 2021.

      Among the top 10 destination countries, the strongest growth over the last decade was for Australians visiting Asian countries. Recent declines for these countries are due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

      14.4 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Top 10 destination countries(a) — 2021
      Destination country'0002020 to 2021 change ('000)2011 to 2021 change ('000)
      New Zealand159.76-278.91-928.54
      USA17.14-218.36-798.41
      UK14.58-132.35-501.90
      India11.67-174.51-177.48
      Fiji8.70-58.03-328.43
      Singapore6.41-81.74-279.11
      PNG4.85-19.46-73.42
      China(b)4.83-117.28-351.32
      United Arab Emirates4.40-13.40-31.21
      Pakistan4.00-18.32-12.29
      ALL COUNTRIES300.38-2531.97-7465.55

      (a) Top 10 source countries based on year ending December 2021.
      (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

      State or territory of residence

      All travellers are asked their intended address in Australia upon arrival.

      Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of state borders and airports have been closed to international visitors at different times.

      The proportion of short-term residents returning from a short-term trip to Australia by their state or territory of residence in 2021 were as follows:

      • NSW (60.0% of all short-term resident returns)
      • Vic. (16.3%)
      • Qld (14.5%)
      • SA (1.9%)
      • WA (5.1%)
      • Tas. (0.7%)
      • NT (0.4%)
      • ACT (1.2%).

      In 2011 the proportions were different especially for the two most populated states, with those travelling overseas from NSW accounting for 35.1% of all visitors and Vic. accounting for 24.7%.

      Most states and territories recorded growth in residents taking overseas trips in the ten year period up to early 2020. Western Australia, however, remained flat from 2014 until the impact of the pandemic. While the Northern Territory wavered during the decade and had started to decline in the year before COVID-19. However, there was a considerable drop for all states and territories from March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

      At the state and territory level, the mix of destination countries is similar to that at the national level.

      During 2021 New Zealand was the leading destination country for residents of all states due to the trans-Tasman travel bubble.

      Ten years earlier in 2011, New Zealand was the leading destination for residents of all states and territories except for SA, WA, and the NT (for which Indonesia was the leading destination).

      Age and sex

       

      There were more trips taken overseas by Australian men than women in 2021 (165,230 men compared with 135,140 women), In 2011, there was also more trips taken by men than women (4.1 million men compared with 3.7 million women).

      In 2021, Australian men and women travelling overseas had a similar median age (41 years and 38 years respectively). Among those aged 20 to 29, women took more trips than men.

       

      Main reason for journey

      In 2021, the most frequently stated main reason for journey by Australian residents returning home after a short-term trip was:

      • Visiting friends/relatives (53.4%)
      • Holiday (16.4%)
      • Business (11.2%).

      (a) As a percentage of all short-term resident returns.

      Female resident returns were more likely than males to record their main reason for journey as ‘visiting friends/relatives’ or ‘other’. Male residents were more likely to record ‘business’ or ‘employment’.

      During the pandemic and associated travel restrictions there has been an increase in travellers recording 'Other' as their main reason for journey. 

      14.8 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Main reason for journey and Sex — 2021
      Main reason for journeyMales (%)Females (%)
      Visiting friends/relatives46.461.9
      Business16.05.3
      Holiday15.917.0
      Employment10.74.1
      Education1.31.5
      Convention/conference0.80.5
      Exhibition0.10.1
      Other8.89.6
      Total100.0100.0

      Duration of stay

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

      During 2021, the median duration away for Australians on a short-term trip was 17 days, the same as the year before. In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the median duration was 14 days. 

      The median duration varied between the states and territories and between the numerous destination countries.

      14.9 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Top 10 destination countries(a) by State/Territory of Residence — Median duration of stay (days) — 2021
      NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACTAust.(b)
      China(c)154156153147150190209122154
      Pakistan871121071011011441098397
      PNG656470626065679167
      India4579957599791275257
      USA376275718797454146
      UK355695908872473643
      Singapore234772809032513931
      Unit Arab Emir213990568746522027
      New Zealand91010101511161010
      Fiji88941728482898
      All countries171814253015332517

      (a) Top 10 source countries have been calculated at the Australia level.
      (b) Includes Other Territories.
      (c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

      In 2021, among the states and territories the median duration away overseas was the:

      • highest for those who lived in NT at 33 days
      • lowest in Qld at 14 days.

      Residents visiting China (with a median duration of 154 days) stayed away the longest compared to other top 10 destination countries. 

      Those residents travelling to Fiji only visited for 8 days on average, this was shorter than the other top 10 destinations.

      The duration of stay of short-term trips by Australian residents going overseas varied according to reason for journey. Those travelling for:

      • education stayed away the longest (140 days)
      • employment (73 days)
      • exhibition (20 days)
      • visiting friends/relatives (17 days)
      • business (15 days)
      • convention/conference (10 days)
      • a holiday stayed the shortest (9 days).

      Recent changes

      Inclusion of statistics on total arrivals and departures, and provisional estimates

      From June 2021, the ABS has updated the layout and statistics available at the beginning of this publication. It now includes statistics in the commentary on total arrivals and total departures (including provisional figures) rather than just a focus on short-term travel. This is due to increased interest in all travel to Australia. 

      To provide more timely travel data in response to COVID-19, provisional estimates are now included in Graphs 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3. Additional provisional data are available under the Data downloads for State of clearance (Table 13), Country of citizenship (Table 14), and Visa group (Table 15). No further breakdowns of provisional data are available, other than those which appear in this release.

      COVID-19 from Feb 2020

      In response to the need for additional data and analysis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ABS will continue to release a series of feature articles containing additional state and territory level analysis of overseas visitor arrivals, as well as national and state and territory information on arrivals of overseas students. See the left hand navigation pane to access information on a specific state/territory or article.

      On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. Initially the Australian Government placed travel restrictions on those travelling to Australia from mainland China commencing 1 February 2020 and restrictions on other countries soon followed. From 20 March 2020, all overseas travel was banned, with few exceptions. The pandemic has continued to disrupt international travel.

      From 1 November 2021, the Australian Government began to ease international travel restrictions with some fully vaccinated groups. Initially, Australian citizens and permanent residents were permitted to travel to and from Australia without exemption. This was then extended to citizens from additional countries and eligible visa holders.

      Data notes

      This release contains overseas movement data which should not be interpreted as 'persons'. See the Scope section, paragraph 1 in the Methodology for more detail.

      The statistics in this release have been rounded. See the Confidentiality section in the Methodology for more detail.

      Inquiries

      For inquiries about these and related statistics, contact the Customer Assistance Service via the ABS website Contact Us page. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to the ABS.

      Data downloads

      I-notes

      1. For all Short-term Visitor Arrivals (STVA) and Short-term Resident Returns (STRR) series, the trend estimates have been suspended from February 2020 and the seasonally adjusted estimates have been suspended from April 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international travel. For more information, see the Seasonally adjusted and trend estimates section in the Methodology page associated with this release.

      2. The quality of the imputation used to estimate duration of stay for some resident departures has been impacted by changed travel behaviour during COVID-19 travel restrictions. The proportional split between short-term resident departures and long-term resident departures has been impacted. Where possible, instead of departure volumes, we recommend clients use short-term resident returns and long-term resident returns for greater accuracy. For more information on how this variable is imputed, please see paragraph 28 of the Imputations and derivations section of the Methodology page.

      3. Short-term arrival movements are usually based on a sample and subject to sampling error. However, from April 2020 a full enumeration has been undertaken due to the small volume of international travel movements caused by the impact of COVID-19. See paragraphs 1-2 of the Sampling section in the Methodology page.

      4. Occasionally situations occur that necessitate breaks being applied to the trend series. For an overview of the breaks currently included in the trend series, see paragraph 14 of the Seasonally adjusted and trend estimates section in the Methodology.

      5. For further information about the data, including updates or changes, see the Methodology page.

      Time series spreadsheets

      Data files

      Data Explorer datasets

      Two Overseas Arrivals and Departures datasets are available in Data Explorer.

      ABS.Stat is no longer an active service and the datasets are now available in Data Explorer. 
      The data available in Data Explorer is the same as in ABS.Stat but with a new interface and added functionality.

      Caution: Data in Data Explorer is currently released after the 11:30am release on the ABS website. Please check the reference period when using Data Explorer.

      For information on Data Explorer and how it works, see the Data Explorer user guide.

      Previous catalogue number

      This release previously used catalogue number 3401.0