Latest release

Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia

Statistics on international travel, including tourism trips, arriving in and departing from Australia. Focusing on short-term trips (less than 1 year)

Reference period
September 2020
Released
12/11/2020
Future releases
  • Next Release 14/12/2020
    Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, October 2020
  • Next Release 15/01/2021
    Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, November 2020
  • Next Release 17/02/2021
    Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, December 2020
  • View all releases

Key statistics

September 2020 original estimates for short-term trips (less than 1 year):

  • Overseas visitor arrivals to Australia increased 22.6% since the previous month to 3,720 trips
  • Australian resident returns from overseas increased 1.1% since the previous month to 8,170 trips.
1.1 Monthly change - Original estimates
Aug 2020 (no.)Sep 2020 (no.)Aug 2020 to Sep 2020 (% change)
Visitor arrivals - short-term trips3,0303,72022.6
Resident returns - short-term trips8,0708,1701.1

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.

Changes due to COVID-19

The pandemic has continued to disrupt international travel. Trend estimates were suspended from February 2020 and seasonally adjusted estimates suspended from April 2020 due to the outbreak. Original estimates are still available and used in the analysis below. For more information, see the Recent changes Section.

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 3,720 short-term trips were recorded.
  • This was a decrease of 99.5% when compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
  • The USA was the largest source country, accounting for 16% of all visitor arrivals.
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Source countries

The three leading source countries were:

  • The USA (610 trips)
  • The UK (430)
  • New Zealand (350).

Details

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

There were decreases of over 90% recorded for each of the top ten source countries when compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

2.3 Short-term visitor arrivals - Top 10 source countries(a) - % change
Country of ResidenceSep 2019 (no.)Sep 2020 (no.)Sep 2019 to Sep 2020 (% change)
USA48,380610-98.7
UK(b)41,300430-99.0
New Zealand126,990350-99.7
India32,020210-99.3
China(c)98,990200-99.8
Singapore36,260190-99.5
Vanuatu1,880170-90.9
Philippines12,580170-98.7
Hong Kong19,910130-99.4
Japan40,75080-99.8

(a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending September 2020.
(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. There were decreases of over 99% across all states and territories when compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

Details

2.4 Short-term visitor arrivals, State or territory of stay - September 2020 - % change

2.4 Short-term visitor arrivals, State or territory of stay - September 2020 - % change

2.4 Short-term visitor arrivals, State or territory of stay - September 2020 - % change

Data is shown in Table 2.5 below
2.5 Short-term visitor arrivals, State or territory of stay - % change
State or territory of staySep 2019 (no.)Sep 2020 (no.)Sep 2019 to Sep 2020 (% change)
NSW251,7301,880-99.3
Vic.168,980330-99.8
Qld160,010730-99.5
SA22,780100-99.6
WA69,390300-99.6
Tas.5,13020-99.6
NT8,450270-96.8
ACT8,46090-99.0
Australia(a)694,9603,720-99.5

(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 8,170 short-term trips were recorded.
  • This was a decrease of 99.2% when compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
  • The UK was the most popular destination country, accounting for 13% of all resident returns.
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Destination countries

The three leading destination countries were:

  • The UK (1,080 trips)
  • New Zealand (940)
  • The USA (750).

Details

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

There were decreases of over 95% recorded for each of the top ten source countries when compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

3.3 Short-term resident returns - Top 10 destination countries(a) - % change
Country of StaySep 2019 (no.)Sep 2020 (no.)Sep 2019 to Sep 2020 (% change)
UK(b)73,8301,080-98.5
New Zealand110,950940-99.2
USA95,180750-99.2
China(c)46,650500-98.9
India22,950440-98.1
PNG8,060390-95.2
Hong Kong12,470270-97.8
Singapore37,540210-99.4
Unit Arab Emir4,310170-96.1
Indonesia133,240170-99.9

(a) Top 10 destination countries based on month ending September 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. There were decreases of over 98% across all states and territories when compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

Details

3.4 Short-term resident returns, State or territory of residence - September 2020 - % change

3.4 Short-term resident returns, State or territory of residence - September 2020 - % change

3.4 Short-term resident returns, State or territory of residence - September 2020 - % change

Data is shown in Table 3.5 below
3.5 Short-term resident returns, State or territory of residence - % change
State or territory of residenceSep 2019 (no.)Sep 2020 (no.)Sep 2019 to Sep 2020 (% change)
NSW318,8404,550-98.6
Vic.292,5501,080-99.6
Qld176,4601,220-99.3
SA47,780260-99.4
WA120,110750-99.4
Tas.11,12060-99.5
NT8,00070-99.1
ACT17,760180-99.0
Australia(a)992,8208,170-99.2

(a) Includes Other Territories.

Arrivals - state and territory

This section 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. Analysis in this section is 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 1,880 short-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 99.3% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
  • The largest source countries were the USA, the UK and New Zealand.
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Source countries

The three leading source countries for New South Wales were:

  • The USA (320 trips)
  • The UK (260)
  • New Zealand (150).
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(a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending September 2020.
(b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
(c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

There were decreases of over 83% recorded for each of the top ten source countries, when compared to the corresponding month of the previous year. 

4.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, NSW - Top 10 source countries(a) - % change
Country of ResidenceSep 2019 (no.)Sep 2020 (no.)Sep 2019 to Sep 2020 (% change)
USA24,740320-98.7
UK(b)13,960260-98.1
New Zealand37,230150-99.6
China(c)42,130100-99.8
Hong Kong7,990100-98.7
Singapore8,67090-99.0
Philippines5,80090-98.5
Vanuatu47080-83.4
New Caledonia1,69050-96.7
India11,32050-99.6

(a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending September 2020.
(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 450 long-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 97.5% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

Victoria

Key findings

For visitor arrivals to Victoria:

  • There were 330 short-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 99.8% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
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Long-term visitor arrivals

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

  • There were nearly 100 long-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 99.1% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

 

Due to the small number of movements, no further analysis has been undertaken.

Queensland

Key findings

For visitor arrivals to Queensland:

  • There were 730 short-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 99.5% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
  • The largest source countries were New Zealand, India and the UK.
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Source countries

The three leading source countries for Queensland were:

  • New Zealand (110 trips)
  • India (100)
  • The UK (80).
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(a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending September 2020.
(b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
(c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

There were decreases of over 57% recorded for each of the top ten source countries, when compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

6.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, Qld - Top 10 source countries(a) - % change
Country of ResidenceSep 2019 (no.)Sep 2020 (no.)Sep 2019 to Sep 2020 (% change)
New Zealand51,820110-99.8
India4,240100-97.7
UK(b)9,82080-99.2
USA8,21080-99.1
Philippines1,59060-96.2
PNG3,48030-99.0
Ukraine6020-57.9
Sri Lanka27020-92.0
Canada2,96020-99.4
China(c)13,10020-99.9

(a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending September 2020.
(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 100 long-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 98.1% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

South Australia

Key findings

For visitor arrivals to South Australia:

  • There were 100 short-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 99.6% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
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Long-term visitor arrivals

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

  • There were nearly 20 long-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 98.7% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

 

Due to the small number of movements, no further analysis has been undertaken.

Western Australia

Key findings

For visitor arrivals to Western Australia:

  • There were 300 short-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 99.6% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
  • The largest source countries were the UK, the USA and Singapore.
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Source countries

The three leading source countries for Western Australia were:

  • The UK (40 trips)
  • The USA (40)
  • Singapore (30).
Download

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

8.3 Short-term visitor arrivals, WA - Top 10 source countries(a) - % change
Country of ResidenceSep 2019 (no.)Sep 2020 (no.)Sep 2019 to Sep 2020 (% change)
UK(b)6,31040-99.3
USA2,43040-98.4
Singapore10,29030-99.8
New Zealand5,57020-99.6
India2,26020-99.0
Ireland69020-97.7
Ukraine5010-76.3
China(c)5,77010-99.9
Spain18010-96.5
Italy68010-99.1

(a) Top 10 source countries based on month ending September 2020.
(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 just over 80 long-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 97.4% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

Tasmania

Key findings

For visitor arrivals to Tasmania:

  • There were just over 20 short-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 99.6% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
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Long-term visitor arrivals

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

  • There were nearly 10 long-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 98.5% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

 

Due to the small number of movements, no further analysis has been undertaken.

Northern Territory

Key findings

For visitor arrivals to the Northern Territory:

  • There were 270 short-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 96.8% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
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Long-term visitor arrivals

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

  • There were just over 30 long-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 91.9% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

 

Due to the small number of movements, no further analysis has been undertaken.

Australian Capital Territory

Key findings

For visitor arrivals to the Australian Capital Territory:

  • There were nearly 90 short-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 99% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
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Long-term visitor arrivals

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

  • There were nearly 90 long-term visitor arrivals.
  • This was a decrease of 89.7% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

 

Due to the small number of movements, no further analysis has been undertaken.

Arrivals - international students

This analysis 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 September 2020 there were just over 80 international student arrivals to Australia.

  • This was a decrease of 45,220 students (-99.8%) compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
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(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 September 2020 there were nearly 40 international student arrivals to New South Wales.

  • This was a decrease of 22,320 students (-99.8%) compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

 

Due to the small number of movements, no further analysis has been undertaken.

Victoria

In September 2020 there were nearly 20 international student arrivals to Victoria.

  • This was a decrease of 10,590 students (-99.9%) compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

 

Due to the small number of movements, no further analysis has been undertaken.

Queensland

In September 2020 there were nearly 20 international student arrivals to Queensland.

  • This was a decrease of 6,700 students (-99.7%) compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

 

Due to the small number of movements, no further analysis has been undertaken.

South Australia

In September 2020 there were fewer than 10 international student arrivals to South Australia.

  • This was a decrease of 1,590 students (-99.7%) compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

 

Due to the small number of movements, no further analysis has been undertaken.

Western Australia

In September 2020 there were fewer than 10 international student arrivals to Western Australia.

  • This was a decrease of 2,280 students (-99.9%) compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

 

Due to the small number of movements, no further analysis has been undertaken.

Tasmania

In September 2020 there were fewer than 10 international student arrivals to Tasmania.

  • This was a decrease of 400 students (-99.8%) compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

 

Due to the small number of movements, no further analysis has been undertaken.

Northern Territory

In September 2020 there were fewer than 10 international student arrivals to the Northern Territory.

  • This was a decrease of 120 students (-99.1%) compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

 

Due to the small number of movements, no further analysis has been undertaken.

Australian Capital Territory

In September 2020 there were fewer than 10 international student arrivals to the Australian Capital Territory.

  • This was a decrease of 1,230 students (-99.7%) compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

 

Due to the small number of movements, no further analysis has been undertaken.

Visitor arrivals - Financial year - 2019-20

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).

Key findings

Visitors arriving in Australia in 2019-20.

  • There were 6.7 million visitor arrivals, down 27.9% on the previous year and the lowest since 2013-14
  • New Zealand was the largest source country, with over 1 million visitors nationally, and the largest for Qld and Tas.
  • China was the largest for NSW, Vic., SA and the ACT, with almost 900,000 visitors nationally
  • There were more visits by women than men. Ten years earlier, the opposite was true.
  • The main reason for travel was holiday (46.0%)
  • Nationally, the median duration of stay in Australia was 12 days.

Details

Short-term visitor arrivals

There were 6.7 million visitor arrivals in 2019-20. This was down 27.9% on the previous year with 2.6 million fewer arrivals. This was the lowest annual number of visitors since 2013-14. 

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel to and from Australia commenced in February 2020 with the start of border entry restrictions by the Australian Government to those from mainland China. Monthly declines of nearly 100% have been recorded since the tighter border restrictions of entry or exit were introduced from 20 March 2020.

13.1 Short-term visitor arrivals by month
2019-20'000% change(a)
Jul790.42.1
Aug789.26.4
Sept695.00.7
Oct774.02.7
Nov815.91.7
Dec1,077.71.9
Jan766.64.8
Feb685.4-26.1
Mar331.9-60.3
Apr2.2-99.7
May3.4-99.5
Jun5.4-99.2
Annual total6,737.2-27.9

(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.

  • 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 significant 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.

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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

Residents from nearly every country around the world visited Australia in 2019-20: 

  • New Zealand (1.0 million visits) was the largest source country for visitor arrivals
  • China (900,000) was the second largest with strong growth (130%) over the decade
  • Short-term visitor arrivals from all top 5 source countries fell from early 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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(a) Top 5 source countries based on year ending June 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 other Asian countries over the last decade. Recent declines for these countries are due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

13.4 Short-term visitor arrivals, Australia — Top 10 source countries(a) — 2019-20
Country of Residence'0002018-19 to 2019-20 (% change)2009-10 to 2019-20 (% change)
New Zealand1,028.4-26.9-7.4
China(b)899.8-37.2130.4
USA581.5-28.417.7
UK(c)562.3-21.7-17.1
Japan375.3-22.53.8
Singapore315.7-32.127.0
India284.8-23.4122.3
Malaysia258.9-33.526.5
Hong Kong227.4-26.560.8
Korea, South192.3-31.5-4.3

(a) Top 10 source countries based on year ending June 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. The proportion of short-term visitor arrivals by intended state or territory in 2019-20 were as follows:

  • NSW (36.0% of all short-term visitors)
  • Vic. (26.5%)
  • Qld (21.6%)
  • SA (3.0%)
  • WA (9.9%)
  • Tas. (1.1%)
  • NT (0.8%)
  • ACT (1.2%). 

In 2009-10 this pattern was slightly different, with more visitors intending to stay in Qld than in Vic.

All states and territories recorded growth in international visitors in the ten year period except for the Northern Territory and Queensland. Victoria had the largest growth with 655,000 more visitors.

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

During 2019-20:

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

Ten years earlier in 2009-10, New Zealand was the leading source country for NSW, Vic., Qld, and Tas. However, the UK was the leading source country for SA and WA, and the USA for the NT and ACT.

Age and sex

There were more visits to Australia by women than men in 2019-20 (3.5 million women compared with 3.2 million men). The opposite was true in 2009-10 (2.9 million men and 2.7 million women). 

In 2019-20, men visiting Australia had a median age of 41 years while women visiting had a median age of 40 years. The largest group of visitor arrivals was aged between 25 and 29 years. There was a comparatively large number of 56 year old women who arrived in 2019-20. The largest source country for this age group was China. This is due to the combined effect of a large volume of Chinese visitors during the year and the demography of China, with its largest age cohort of women being 56. 

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Main reason for journey

In 2019-20, the most frequently stated main reason for journey by short-term visitors to Australia was:

  • Holiday (46.3%)
  • Visiting friends and relatives (30.9%)
  • Business (6.7%)
  • Education (6.9%).

Female visitors were more likely than males to record their main reason for journey as holiday (48.7% of all females compared with 43.7% of all males), visiting friends and relatives (33.5% compared with 28.0%), and education (7.0% compared with 6.8%). Male visitors on the other hand, were more likely to travel to Australia for business (10.5% of all males compared with 3.3% of all females), to attend a convention/conference (4.1% compared with 2.6%), and for employment (3.1% compared with 1.9%).

Duration of stay

Visitors are asked their intended duration in Australia upon arrival.

During 2019-20, the median duration of stay in Australia was 12 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 2019-20, the median duration of days for those visiting SA was 18 days, whereas for Qld it was 10 days. Those from India (with a median duration of stay of 53 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.

13.7 Short-term visitor arrivals, Australia — Top 10 source countries(a) by State/Territory of stay — Median duration of stay (days) — 2019-20
NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACTAust.(b)
India346131766191916253
UK(c)182021222122192020
China(d)131512311521139014
USA101212141414151211
Hong Kong101110121010111410
Malaysia998117119118
Singapore89910811798
Korea (South)711101610149138
New Zealand66871191177
Japan6761178676
All countries111310181414161712

(a) Top 10 source countries are based 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 by their reason for journey:

  • Those travelling for education (123 days) and employment (122 days) stayed the longest
  • Visiting friends and relatives (17 days)
  • Holiday (10 days)
  • Business travellers stayed the shortest (6 days).

Resident returns - Financial year - 2019-20

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).

Key findings

Australian residents returning to Australia in 2019-20.

  • There were 8.6 million resident returns from overseas, down 23.8% on the previous year and the lowest since 2012-13 
  • New Zealand continued to be the leading destination country for Australians travelling overseas, with 1.1 million trips
  • New Zealand was the leading destination for those living in NSW, Vic., Qld, Tas. and the ACT and Indonesia for those in SA, WA and the NT
  • The main reason for travel was holiday (57.0%)
  • Nationally, the median duration away was 15 days.

Details

Short-term resident returns

There were 8.6 million resident trips overseas in 2019-20. This was down 23.8% on the previous year with 2.7 million fewer trips taken. This was the lowest annual number of resident trips since 2012-13. 

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel to and from Australia commenced in February 2020 with the start of border entry restrictions by the Australian Government to those from mainland China. Monthly declines of nearly 100% have been recorded since the tighter border restrictions of entry and exit were introduced from 20 March 2020. 

14.1 Short-term resident returns by month
2019-20'000% change(a)
Jul1,122.6-1.0
Aug931.01.6
Sep992.81.9
Oct1,146.0-0.2
Nov849.84.9
Dec749.72.3
Jan1,397.40.3
Feb785.45.3
Mar538.4-28.6
Apr17.0-98.1
May13.4-98.5
Jun15.8-98.1
Annual total8,559.2-23.8

(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 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

 

For the past 15 years, a strong continuous increase can be seen up to March 2020 when COVID-19 began to impact overseas travel.  Prior to the pandemic, there were 11.4 million resident trips overseas in the year ending February 2020.

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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

Australians travelled across the globe during 2019-20:

  • New Zealand (1.14 million trips) remained the leading destination country
  • Indonesia was the second most popular destination (1.08 million)
  • The USA (778,700) was the third leading destination but with a peak in 2016-17
  • Short-term resident returns from all top 5 destination countries fell from early 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. 
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(a) Top 5 destination countries based on year ending June 2020.
(b) Includes United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
(c) Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

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

14.4 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Top 10 destination countries(a) — 2019-20
Destination Country'0002018-19 to 2019-20 (% change)2009-10 to 2019-20 (% change)
New Zealand1,145.0-20.78.8
Indonesia1,076.7-17.966.4
USA778.7-27.822.7
UK(b)528.0-20.911.5
China(c)396.9-35.038.5
Japan393.3-18.7128.4
Thailand383.0-32.3-10.0
India347.3-16.6119.3
Singapore303.8-25.126.8
Fiji255.8-25.9-12.6

(a) Top 10 destination countries based on year ending June 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. The proportion of short-term resident returns by their state or territory of residence in 2019-20 were as follows:

  • NSW (33.4% of all short-term resident returns)
  • Vic. (27.4%)
  • Qld (18.3%)
  • SA (4.5%)
  • WA (12.6%)
  • Tas. (1.0%)
  • NT (0.8%)
  • ACT (1.9%).

In 2009-10, this pattern was very similar with a slightly higher proportion of those travelling overseas from NSW (35.6%) and WA (14.6%).

All states and territories recorded growth in residents taking overseas trips in the ten year period. Victoria had the largest growth with 741,000 more trips.

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

During 2019-20:

  • 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 2009-10, New Zealand was the leading destination for residents of all state 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 2019-20 (4.4 million men compared with 4.1 million women), similar to 2009-10 (3.5 million men and 3.2 million women). 

In 2019-20, Australian men and women travelling overseas had a similar median age (42 years and 40 years respectively). Among those aged 18 to 30, there were more trips undertaken by women than men.

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Main reason for journey

In 2019-20, the most frequently stated main reason for journey by Australian residents returning home after a short-term trip was:

  • Holiday (57%)
  • Visiting friends and relatives (27%)
  • Business (7%).

Female residents were more likely than males to record their main reason as a holiday (60% of all females compared with 55% of all males), visiting friends and relatives (29% compared with 25%) and for education (1.4% compared with 1.2%). Male residents were more likely to travel overseas for business (11% of all males compared with 4% of all females), to attend a convention/conference (3% compared with 2%), and for employment (2% compared with 1%).

Duration of stay

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

During 2019-20, the median duration away for Australians on a short-term trip was 15 days. However, this varies between the states and territories and between the numerous destination countries. It also varies greatly depending on a traveller's main reason for journey. 

In 2019-20, the median duration away overseas for Victorians, South Australians, Tasmanians and those from the ACT was 16 days, whereas for those from WA was 13 days. Those travelling to the UK and India were usually away for an average of 25 days each which was longer than all the other top 10 destinations. Those travelling to Fiji and New Zealand were away for 8 days on average.

14.7 Short-term resident returns, Australia — Top 10 destination countries(a) by State/Territory of Residence — Median duration of stay (days) — 2019-20
NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACTAust.(b)
UK(c)252627262432222625
India232725292421312525
China(d)202118191818182020
USA151717182019211616
Thailand141514161517161615
Japan121214131213131412
Indonesia11101098119109
Singapore89910811799
New Zealand8891113121398
Fiji8988981188
All countries151615161316141615

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

The duration of stay of short-term trips by Australian residents going overseas varied by their reason for journey:

  • Those travelling for employment stayed away the longest (28 days)
  • Education (23 days)
  • Visiting friends and relatives (22 days)
  • Holiday (14 days)
  • Business travellers stayed the shortest (7 days).

Recent changes

Suspension of seasonally adjusted and trend estimates from Apr and Feb 2020

Seasonally adjusted estimates have been suspended from April 2020 for all Short-term Visitor Arrival (STVA) and Short-term Resident Return (STRR) series due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international travel.

Trend estimates have been suspended from February 2020 for all STVA and STRR series.

Both series will be reintroduced when patterns in the underlying behaviour of passenger travel movements stabilise. Original estimates can be produced and will continue to be published as usual. For more details, please see the Seasonally adjusted and trend estimates section in the Methodology and the ABS Feature Articles: Methods changes during the COVID-19 period (cat. no. 1359.0 for Jun 2020); When It's not "Business-as-usual": Implications for ABS Time Series (cat. no. 1350.0 for Aug 2009).

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. Other restrictions from other countries soon followed as the crisis worsened around the globe. 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 further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to the ABS.

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

Time series spreadsheets

Data files

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 3401.0