Latest release

Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia

Statistics on international travel arriving in and departing from Australia. The main focus is on short-term trips (less than 1 year).

Reference period
May 2021
Released
13/07/2021
Future releases
  • Next Release 17/08/2021
    Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, June 2021
  • Next Release 14/09/2021
    Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, July 2021
  • Next Release 13/10/2021
    Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, August 2021
  • View all releases

Key statistics

  • All arrivals to Australia for May 2021: 114,520, a monthly increase of 60,620 trips
  • All departures: 107,230, a monthly increase of 43,310 trips
  • There were 36,190 short-term visitor arrivals, 79% were from New Zealand
  • There were 62,360 short-term resident returns, 89% were from New Zealand
Download
1.1 Monthly change - Original estimates
Apr 2021 (no.)May 2021 (no.)Apr 2021 to May 2021 (% change)
All arrivals(a)53,910114,520112.5
All departures(a)63,920107,23067.8
Visitor arrivals - short-term trips22,61036,19060.1
Resident returns - short-term trips16,99062,360267.1

(a) Includes permanent, short- and long-term trips.
Note: Volumes remain low compared with pre-COVID levels.

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.

Migration Statistics

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

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

Visitor arrivals

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).

Key findings

For visitor arrivals to Australia:

  • A total of 36,190 short-term trips were recorded, an increase of 32,750 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
  • May 2021 trips decreased 94.6% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.
  • New Zealand was the largest source country, accounting for 78.8% of all visitor arrivals.
Download

Source countries

The three leading source countries where visitors came from were:

  • New Zealand (28,510 trips)
  • The USA (970)
  • The UK (860).

Details

Download

(a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending May 2021.
(b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
(c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

Download
2.3 Short-term visitor arrivals - Top 10 source countries(a)
Country of ResidenceMay 2019 (no.)May 2020 (no.)May 2021 (no.)May 2019 to May 2021 (% change)
New Zealand117,5201,19028,510-75.7
USA56,410320970-98.3
UK(b)29,980340860-97.1
Singapore41,610100570-98.6
Vanuatu1,63010560-65.9
Philippines16,16070370-97.7
China(c)94,69090360-99.6
Tonga1,3400310-77.1
Hong Kong21,12080200-99.0
Kiribati2600200-21.8

(a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending May 2021.
(b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
(c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

State or territory of stay

All travellers are asked their intended address in Australia upon arrival. Visitor arrivals were at least 92% lower than the pre-COVID levels of May 2019 across all states and territories.

Details

    2.4 Short-term visitor arrivals, State or territory of stay - May 2019 to May 2021 % change

    2.4 Short-term visitor arrivals, State or territory of stay - May 2019 to May 2021 % change

    2.4 Short-term visitor arrivals, State or territory of stay - May 2019 to May 2021 % change

    Data is shown in Table 2.5 below
    Download
    2.5 Short-term visitor arrivals, State or territory of stay
    State or territory of stayMay 2019 (no.)May 2020 (no.)May 2021 (no.)May 2019 to May 2021 (% change)
    NSW251,9901,42016,490-93.5
    Vic.176,5107705,850-96.7
    Qld144,2906409,850-93.2
    SA17,540100780-95.5
    WA61,1003702,300-96.2
    Tas.4,64020360-92.3
    NT6,06060240-96.1
    ACT6,14060320-94.8
    Australia(a)668,2803,44036,190-94.6

    (a) Includes Other Territories.
     

    Resident returns

    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).

    Key findings

    For residents returning from overseas:

    • A total of 62,360 short-term trips were recorded, an increase of 48,980 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
    • May 2021 trips decreased 92.8% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.
    • New Zealand was the most popular destination country, accounting for 88.9% of all resident returns.
    Download

    Destination countries

    The three leading destination countries residents returned from were:

    • New Zealand (55,440 trips)
    • The USA (810)
    • India (510).

    Details

    Download

    (a) Top 10 destination countries based on month ending May 2021.
    (b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
    (c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    Excluding New Zealand, resident returns were at least 92% lower than the pre-COVID levels of May 2019 for each of the top ten source countries.

    Download
    3.3 Short-term resident returns - Top 10 destination countries(a)
    Country of StayMay 2019 (no.)May 2020 (no.)May 2021 (no.)May 2019 to May 2021 (% change)
    New Zealand90,1901,38055,440-38.5
    USA94,9901,080810-99.1
    India28,3902,680510-98.2
    UK(b)47,8101,050460-99.0
    China(c)59,550820410-99.3
    PNG6,340170300-95.2
    Singapore27,410320290-98.9
    Pakistan2,770660210-92.6
    Hong Kong20,430220160-99.2
    Japan41,660170160-99.6

    (a) Top 10 destination countries based on month ending May 2021.
    (b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
    (c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

    State or territory of residence

    All travellers are asked their intended address in Australia upon arrival.  Resident returns were at least 88% lower than the pre-COVID levels of April 2019 across all states and territories.

    Details

      3.4 Short-term resident returns, State or territory of residence - May 2019 to May 2021 % change

      3.4 Short-term resident returns, State or territory of residence - May 2019 to May 2021 % change

      3.4 Short-term resident returns, State or territory of residence - May 2019 to May 2021 % change

      Data is shown in Table 3.5 below
      Download
      3.5 Short-term resident returns, State or territory of residence
      State or territory of residenceMay 2019 (no.)May 2020 (no.)May 2021 (no.)May 2019 to May 2021 (% change)
      NSW297,1304,99034,000-88.6
      Vic.228,8103,63011,570-94.9
      Qld159,7902,47011,800-92.6
      SA42,5705501,010-97.6
      WA104,3201,2902,780-97.3
      Tas.10,440100430-95.9
      NT6,970100160-97.8
      ACT16,170250590-96.3
      Australia(a)866,28013,38062,360-92.8

      (a) Includes Other Territories.
       

      Arrivals - 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

      Key findings

      For visitor arrivals to New South Wales:

      • There were 16,490 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 15,070 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 93.5% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.
      • The largest source countries were New Zealand, the USA and the UK.
      Download

      Source countries

      The three leading source countries for New South Wales were:

      • New Zealand (13,020 trips)
      • The USA (530)
      • The UK (460).
      Download

      (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending May 2021.
      (b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
      (c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

      Visitor arrivals for NSW were at least 63% lower than the pre-COVID levels of May 2019 for each of the top ten source countries.

      Download
      4.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, NSW - Top 10 source countries(a)
      Country of ResidenceMay 2019 (no.)May 2020 (no.)May 2021 (no.)May 2019 to May 2021 (% change)
      New Zealand35,92058013,020-63.7
      USA30,150150530-98.2
      UK(b)11,440110460-96.0
      Singapore11,39060310-97.3
      China(c)43,04040170-99.6
      Philippines7,51030130-98.2
      Vanuatu5400130-75.8
      Hong Kong8,76040120-98.6
      Tonga500090-82.1
      Canada4,3602090-98.0

      (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending May 2021.
      (b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
      (c) 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 1,370 arrivals, an increase of 1,300 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 90.3% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

      Victoria

      Key findings

      For visitor arrivals to Victoria:

      • There were 5,850 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 5,080 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 96.7% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.
      • The largest source countries were New Zealand, Vanuatu and the USA.
      Download

      Source countries

      The three leading source countries for Victoria were:

      • New Zealand (4,560 trips)
      • Vanuatu (210)
      • The USA (170).
      Download

      (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending May 2021.
      (b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
      (c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

      Excluding Vanuatu, Visitor arrivals for Vic. were at least 83% lower than the pre-COVID levels of May 2019 for each of the top ten source countries.

      Download
      5.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, Vic. - Top 10 source countries(a)
      Country of ResidenceMay 2019 (no.)May 2020 (no.)May 2021 (no.)May 2019 to May 2021 (% change)
      New Zealand27,1302804,560-83.2
      Vanuatu150021036.8
      USA10,98060170-98.5
      UK(b)5,65070110-98.0
      China(c)30,58030110-99.6
      Singapore11,7803070-99.4
      Hong Kong5,7802040-99.3
      Philippines4,1601040-99.1
      Germany2,360040-98.4
      Unit Arab Emir6102040-94.3

      (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending May 2021.
      (b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
      (c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

      Long-term visitor arrivals

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

      • There were 420 arrivals, an increase of 360 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 95.7% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

      Queensland

      Key findings

      For visitor arrivals to Queensland:

      • There were 9,850 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 9,210 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 93.2% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.
      • The largest source countries were New Zealand, Vanuatu and the UK.
      Download

      Source countries

      The three leading source countries for Queensland were:

      • New Zealand (8,270 trips)
      • Vanuatu (190)
      • The UK (140).
      Download

      (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending May 2021.
      (b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
      (c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

      Visitor arrivals for Qld were at least 69% lower than the pre-COVID levels of May 2019 for each of the top ten source countries.

      Download
      6.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, Qld - Top 10 source countries(a)
      Country of ResidenceMay 2019 (no.)May 2020 (no.)May 2021 (no.)May 2019 to May 2021 (% change)
      New Zealand45,4502308,270-81.8
      Vanuatu63010190-69.5
      UK(b)6,58050140-97.8
      Philippines2,00010130-93.4
      Solomon Islands4400130-71.3
      USA9,59070120-98.7
      Tonga4000110-72.6
      Singapore5,50010100-98.1
      PNG2,8204050-98.4
      China(c)12,9001040-99.7

      (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending May 2021.
      (b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
      (c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

      Long-term visitor arrivals

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

      • There were 520 arrivals, an increase of 460 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 89.4% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

      South Australia

      Key findings

      For visitor arrivals to South Australia:

      • There were 780 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 680 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 95.5% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.
      Download

      Long-term visitor arrivals

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

      • There were 70 arrivals, an increase of 70 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 94% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

       

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

      Western Australia

      Key findings

      For visitor arrivals to Western Australia:

      • There were 2,300 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 1,940 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 96.2% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.
      • The largest source countries were New Zealand, Tonga and the UK.
      Download

      Source countries

      The three leading source countries for Western Australia were:

      • New Zealand (1,550 trips)
      • Tonga (110)
      • The UK (90).
      Download

      (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending May 2021.
      (b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
      (c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

      Excluding Tonga, visitor arrivals for WA were at least 69% lower than the pre-COVID levels of May 2019 for each of the top ten source countries.

      Download
      8.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, WA - Top 10 source countries(a)
      Country of ResidenceMay 2019 (no.)May 2020 (no.)May 2021 (no.)May 2019 to May 2021 (% change)
      New Zealand5,040601,550-69.1
      Tonga90011021.1
      UK(b)4,4607090-98.0
      USA2,7102070-97.3
      Singapore10,6001060-99.5
      Philippines1,4301060-96.1
      Indonesia3,7601050-98.7
      Malaysia11,190020-99.9
      Ireland6201020-97.6
      China(c)3,770020-99.6

      (a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending May 2021.
      (b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
      (c) 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 170 arrivals, an increase of 150 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 94.2% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

      Tasmania

      Key findings

      For visitor arrivals to Tasmania:

      • There were 360 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 330 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 92.3% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.
      Download

      Long-term visitor arrivals

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

      • There were 20 arrivals, an increase of 10 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 95.9% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

       

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

      Northern Territory

      Key findings

      For visitor arrivals to the Northern Territory:

      • There were 240 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 170 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 96.1% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.
      Download

      Long-term visitor arrivals

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

      • There were 30 arrivals, an increase of 20 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 93.7% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

       

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

      Australian Capital Territory

      Key findings

      For visitor arrivals to the Australian Capital Territory:

      • There were 320 short-term visitor arrivals, an increase of 260 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 94.8% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.
      Download

      Long-term visitor arrivals

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

      • There were 110 arrivals, an increase of 90 compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 83.2% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

       

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

      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

      Key findings

      • In May 2021 there were 390 international student arrivals to Australia, an increase of 350 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 98.9% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.
      Download

      (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 May 2021 there were 220 international student arrivals to New South Wales, an increase of 210 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 98.5% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

       

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

      Victoria

      • In May 2021 there were 60 international student arrivals to Victoria, an increase of 50 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 99.4% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

       

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

      Queensland

      • In May 2021 there were 60 international student arrivals to Queensland, an increase of 60 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 99% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

       

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

      South Australia

      • In May 2021 there were 20 international student arrivals to South Australia, an increase of 20 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 98.5% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

       

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

      Western Australia

      • In May 2021 there were 10 international student arrivals to Western Australia, an increase of 10 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 99.3% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

       

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

      Tasmania

      • In May 2021 there were 0 international student arrivals to Tasmania, a decrease of 10 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.

       

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

      Northern Territory

      • In May 2021 there were 0 international student arrivals to the Northern Territory, the same as the corresponding month of the previous year.

       

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

      Australian Capital Territory

      • In May 2021 there were 10 international student arrivals to the Australian Capital Territory, an increase of 10 students compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.
      • May 2021 arrivals decreased 97.6% when compared with pre-COVID levels in May 2019.

       

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

      Visitor arrivals - Calendar year - 2020

      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).

      Effects of COVID-19 outbreak

      The World Health Organisation (WHO) commenced daily situation reports of the COVID-19 outbreak on 21 January 2020 and identified it as an international health emergency on 30 January. This was less than a month after suspected cases were reported in Wuhan, China. Initially the Australian Government placed travel restrictions on those travelling to Australia from mainland China commencing 1 February 2020. 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. For more information, see the Prime Minister's media release on border restrictions or the Smartraveller page from the Australian government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

      Key findings

      Note: 97% of visitor arrivals in 2020 occurred prior to travel restrictions implemented by the Australian Government on 20 March 2020.

      Visitors arriving in Australia in 2020.

      • There were 1.8 million visitor arrivals, down 80.7% on the previous year and the lowest since 1987
      • New Zealand was the largest source country, accounting for 242,500 visitors nationally
      • There were more visits by women than men. Ten years earlier, the opposite was true
      • The main reason for travel was 'holiday' (43.2%)
      • Nationally, the median duration of stay in Australia was 14 days.

      Annual visitor arrivals

      There were 1.8 million visitor arrivals in 2020. This was down 80.7% on the previous year with 7.6 million fewer arrivals. This was the lowest annual number of visitors since 1987.

      The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in substantial declines in travel movements since the introduction of border restrictions in March 2020.

      Download
      13.1 Short-term visitor arrivals by month
      2020'000% change(a)
      Jan766.64.8
      Feb685.4-26.1
      Mar331.9-60.3
      Apr2.2-99.7
      May3.4-99.5
      Jun5.4-99.2
      Jul3.5-99.6
      Aug3.0-99.6
      Sep3.7-99.5
      Oct6.1-99.2
      Nov7.6-99.1
      Dec8.8-99.2
      Annual Total1,827.7-80.7

      (a) Percentage 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 over the past ten years (as seen in graph 13.2 below).

      • Peaks were seen during the Brisbane Expo in 1988 and the Sydney Olympics in 2000
      • Decreases were experienced during the Asian financial crisis in 1998, after the 2001 September 11 attacks in the USA, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 and the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008.

      However, due to the impact of COVID-19, a substantial decline has been observed from February 2020 onwards. Prior to the pandemic, there were a record 9.5 million visitors to Australia in the year ending January 2020.

      Download

      Events impacting short-term visitor arrivals include:

      • 1988: Brisbane Expo
      • 1998: Asian financial crisis
      • 2000: Sydney Olympics
      • 2001: September 11 attacks
      • 2003: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak
      • 2008: Global Financial Crisis (GFC)
      • 2020: COVID-19 outbreak from February onwards

      Source countries

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

      In 2020:

      • Short-term visitor arrivals for all top 5 source countries fell from early 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
      • New Zealand (242,500 visits) was the largest source country for visitor arrivals
      • China (207,700) was the second largest.

      In 2019, the reverse was true when China was the largest and New Zealand the second largest.

      Download

      (a) Top 5 source countries based on year ending December 2020.
      (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.
      (c) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

      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.

      Download
      13.4 Short-term visitor arrivals, Australia — Top 10 source countries(a) — 2020
      Country of Residence'0002019 to 2020 (% change)2010 to 2020 (% change)
      New Zealand242.5-83.1-78.9
      China(b)207.7-85.6-54.0
      UK(c)200.8-71.9-70.2
      USA188.7-76.9-60.6
      Japan91.7-81.6-76.9
      India84.0-79.0-39.4
      Hong Kong60.9-80.7-59.5
      Singapore58.3-87.8-78.0
      Korea, South53.5-80.9-75.5
      Germany53.0-74.4-68.1

      (a) Top 10 source countries based on year ending December 2020.
      (b) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.
      (c) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

      State or territory of stay

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

      During the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of state borders were closed to international visitors at different times, as were a number of airports. 

      In July 2020 National Cabinet agreed that all international passenger flight arrivals would be coordinated by the Commonwealth Government. This meant that the number of arrivals at each international airport was subject to caps agreed upon between federal and state and territory governments. For example, as part of this national coordinated approach, all international passenger flights into Victoria were cancelled from this time until 7 December 2020.

      The proportion of short-term visitor arrivals by intended state or territory in 2020 were as follows:

      • NSW (36.6% of all short-term visitors)
      • Vic. (27.6%)
      • Qld (19.2%)
      • SA (3.2%)
      • WA (10.3%)
      • Tas. (1.3%)
      • NT (0.6%)
      • ACT (1.2%). 

      In 2010 this pattern was slightly different, with more visitors intending to stay in Qld than in Vic.

      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 significant drop in visitor numbers from March 2020.

      Download

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

      During 2020:

      • The USA was the leading source country for NSW and the NT
      • China provided the most visitors for Vic. and the ACT
      • New Zealand provided the most visitors for Qld and Tas.
      • The UK provided the most visitors for SA and WA.

      Ten years earlier in 2010, New Zealand was the leading source country for NSW, Vic., Qld, SA, and Tas. However, the UK was the leading source country for WA, and the USA for the NT and the ACT.

      Age and sex

      There were more visits to Australia by women than men in 2020 (935,500 women compared with 892,200 men). The opposite was true in 2010 (3.0 million men and 2.8 million women). 

      In 2020, both men and women visiting Australia had a median age of 40 years. The largest group of visitor arrivals was aged between 25 and 29 years, with the largest source country for this age group being China. 

      Download

      Main reason for journey

      The majority of arrivals (97%) in 2020 occurred prior to travel restrictions implemented by the Australian Government on 20 March 2020.

      In 2020, the most frequently stated main reason for journey by short-term visitors to Australia was:

      • Holiday (43.2%)
      • Visiting friends and relatives (30.2%)
      • Education (9.9%)
      • Business (6.6%).
      Download

      (a) As a percentage of all arrivals.

      Female visitors were more likely than males to record their main reason for journey as:

      • Holiday
      • Visiting friends or relatives
      • Education.

      Male visitors were more likely than females to record their main reason for journey as:

      • Business
      • Employment
      • Convention/conference.
      Download
      13.8 Short-term visitor arrivals, Australia — Main reason for journey and Sex — 2020
      Main reason for journeyMales (%)Females (%)
      Holiday40.845.4
      Visiting friends/relatives27.133.2
      Education9.710.0
      Business10.23.2
      Employment4.72.7
      Convention/conference2.61.6
      Other4.93.8
      Total100.0100.0

      Duration of stay

      Visitors are asked their intended duration in Australia upon arrival.

      During 2020, the median duration of stay in Australia was 14 days. However, this varied between the states and territories and between the numerous source countries. It also varied depending on a traveller's main reason for journey.

      In 2020, the median duration of days for those visiting the ACT was 30 days, whereas for Qld it was 11 days. Those from India (with a median duration of stay of 84 days) stated their intention to stay longer than most others, but this also varied between the states and territories. Those from Japan only visited for 6 days on average.

      Download
      13.9 Short-term visitor arrivals, Australia — Top 10 source countries(a) by State/Territory of stay — Median duration of stay (days) — 2020
      NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACTAust.(b)
      India6291629180921529184
      Germany20222228272143122
      UK(c)181921232221192120
      China(d)1823166215171615220
      Hong Kong12121215119103012
      USA101212141515301411
      Korea (South)8141126141489110
      Singapore899118117108
      New Zealand668711111477
      Japan7761579796
      All countries131511221715203014

      (a) Top 10 source countries have been calculated at the Australia level.
      (b) Includes Other Territories.
      (c) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
      (d) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

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

      • Those travelling for education (174 days) and employment (123 days) stayed the longest
      • Visiting friends and relatives (20 days)
      • Holiday (10 days)
      • Business travellers and those attending conventions/conferences stayed the shortest (7 days each).

      Resident returns - Calendar year - 2020

      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).

      Effects of COVID-19 outbreak

      The World Health Organisation (WHO) commenced daily situation reports of the COVID-19 outbreak on 21 January 2020 and identified it as an international health emergency on 30 January. This was less than a month after suspected cases were reported in Wuhan, China. Initially the Australian Government placed travel restrictions on those travelling to Australia from mainland China commencing 1 February 2020. 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. For more information, see the Prime Minister's media release on border restrictions or the Smartraveller page from the Australian government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

      Key findings

      Note: 92% of resident returns in 2020 occurred prior to travel restrictions implemented by the Australian Government on 20 March 2020.

      Australian residents returning to Australia in 2020.

      • There were 2.8 million resident returns from overseas, down 75.0% on the previous year and the lowest since 1996 
      • New Zealand continued to be the leading destination country for Australians travelling overseas, accounting for 438,700 visitors nationally
      • The main reason for travel was 'holiday' (53.3%)
      • Nationally, the median duration away was 17 days.

      Annual resident returns

      There were 2.8 million resident trips overseas in 2020. This was down 75.0% on the previous year with 8.5 million fewer trips taken. This was the lowest annual number of resident trips since 1996.

      The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in substantial declines in travel movements since the introduction of border restrictions in March 2020.

      Download
      14.1 Short-term resident returns by month
      2020'000% change(a)
      Jan1,397.40.3
      Feb785.45.3
      Mar538.4-28.6
      Apr17.0-98.1
      May13.4-98.5
      Jun15.8-98.1
      Jul10.3-99.1
      Aug8.1-99.1
      Sep8.2-99.2
      Oct11.2-99.0
      Nov13.0-98.5
      Dec14.3-98.1
      Annual Total2,832.4-75.0

      (a) Percentage 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 (as seen in graph 14.2 below) 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

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

      Download

      Events impacting short-term resident returns include:

      • 1990: Recession
      • 2001: September 11 attacks
      • 2002: Bali bombings
      • 2003: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak
      • 2008: Global Financial Crisis (GFC)
      • 2020: COVID-19 outbreak from February onwards

      Destination countries

      In 2020: 

      • Short-term resident returns for all top 5 destination countries fell from early 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19
      • New Zealand (438,700 trips) remained the leading destination country
      • Indonesia (310,300) was the second most popular destination
      • The USA (235,500) was the third leading destination.
      Download

      (a) Top 5 destination countries based on year ending December 2020.
       

      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.

      Download
      14.4 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Top 10 destination countries(a) — 2020
      Destination Country'0002019 to 2020 (% change)2010 to 2020 (% change)
      New Zealand438.7-70.0-58.6
      Indonesia310.3-77.8-57.7
      USA235.5-77.7-65.6
      India186.2-56.312.2
      Japan173.0-66.9-0.9
      UK(b)146.9-77.9-69.9
      China(c)122.1-79.9-62.8
      Thailand117.8-78.3-73.1
      Vietnam93.7-70.5-48.7
      Singapore88.1-78.8-64.8

      (a) Top 10 destination countries based on year ending December 2020.
      (b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
      (c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

      State or territory of residence

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

      During the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of state borders were closed to international visitors at different times, as were a number of airports. 

      In July 2020 National Cabinet agreed that all international passenger flight arrivals would be coordinated by the Commonwealth Government. This meant that the number of arrivals at each international airport was subject to caps agreed upon between federal and state and territory governments. For example, as part of this national coordinated approach, all international passenger flights into Victoria were cancelled from this time until 7 December 2020.

      The proportion of short-term resident returns by their state or territory of residence in 2020 were as follows:

      • NSW (34.4% of all short-term resident returns)
      • Vic. (26.1%)
      • Qld (19.2%)
      • SA (4.0%)
      • WA (12.8%)
      • Tas. (0.8%)
      • NT (0.9%)
      • ACT (1.9%).

      In 2010, this pattern was very similar with a slightly higher proportion of those travelling overseas from NSW (35.4%), WA (14.9%), SA (4.3%) and Tas. (1.0%).

      All states and territories recorded growth in residents taking overseas trips in the ten year period up to early 2020. There was however, a significant drop from March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

      Download

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

      During 2020:

      • 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 2010, New Zealand was the leading destination for residents of all states and territories except for 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 2020 (1.5 million men compared with 1.4 million women), which is similar to 2010 (3.7 million men compared with 3.3 million women).

      In 2020, Australian men and women travelling overseas had a similar median age (39 years and 37 years respectively). Among those aged 18 to 30, women took more trips than men. 

      Download

      Main reason for journey

      The majority of resident returns (92%) in 2020 occurred prior to travel restrictions implemented by the Australian Government on 20 March 2020.

      In 2020, the most frequently stated main reason for journey by Australian residents returning home after a short-term trip was:

      • Holiday (53%)
      • Visiting friends and relatives (32%)
      • Business (5%).

       

      Download

      (a) As a percentage of all returns.

      Female resident returns were more likely than males to record their main reason for journey as:

      • Holiday
      • Visiting friends or relatives
      • Education.

      Male resident returns were more likely than females to record their main reason for journey as:

      • Business
      • Employment
      • Convention/conference.
      Download
      14.8 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Main reason for journey and Sex — 2020
      Main reason for journeyMales (%)Females (%)
      Holiday51.854.8
      Visiting friends/relatives30.234.7
      Education1.31.5
      Business8.02.7
      Employment3.31.7
      Convention/conference1.71.1
      Other3.53.5
      Total100.0100.0

      Duration of stay

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

      During 2020, the median duration away for Australians on a short-term trip was 17 days. However, this varied between the states and territories and between the numerous destination countries. It also varied greatly depending on a traveller's main reason for journey.

      In 2020, the median duration away overseas for those from the ACT and the NT was 18 days, whereas for those from Qld and WA it was 16 days. Those travelling to India were usually away for an average of 31 days, which was longer than all the other top 10 destinations. Those travelling to Indonesia were away for 10 days on average.

      Download
      14.9 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Top 10 destination countries(a) by State/Territory of Residence — Median duration of stay (days) — 2020
      NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACTAust.(b)
      India303231333225402931
      China(c)273028302724293428
      UK(d)262528252631212726
      Vietnam202219231816211820
      USA161719182219251917
      Japan151615161518161715
      Thailand141415131312201614
      Singapore121312141014101212
      New Zealand101011131514141111
      Indonesia111010981191110
      All countries171716171617181817

      (a) Top 10 source countries have been calculated at the Australia level.
      (b) Includes Other Territories.
      (c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.
      (d) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

      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 (51 days)
      • Employment (37 days)
      • Visiting friends and relatives (24 days)
      • Holiday (14 days)
      • Business travellers stayed the shortest (8 days).

      Recent changes

      Inclusion of statistics on total arrivals and departures

      From May 2021 statistics on total arrivals and departures will be included in the Key Statistics section in response to changed travel behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic. These statistics have always been available in Tables 1 and 2 in the Data Downloads section.

      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 over the coming months, 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.

      The World Health Organisation (WHO) commenced daily situation reports of the COVID-19 outbreak on 21 January 2020 and identified it as an international health emergency on 30 January. This was less than a month after suspected cases were reported in Wuhan, China. The Australian Government placed travel restrictions on those travelling to Australia initially from mainland China commencing 1 February 2020. Restrictions on other countries soon followed. From 20 March 2020, all overseas travel was banned, with few exceptions. For more information, see the Prime Minister's media release on border restrictions or the Smartraveller page from the Australian government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

      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

      Previous catalogue number

      This release previously used catalogue number 3401.0

      Article archive

      Previous Feature Articles