Travel trends - how Australians travel

Australians are well known throughout the world for their adventurous spirit and love of travelling. Ever wonder how much of Australia's population actually travels abroad? Here's some insights from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2012 International Movements Report.

The number of Australian residents travelling internationally on holiday, business or other reasons has been growing at a rapid pace in recent years, and 2012 was no different. In 2012, a record-breaking 8.2 million residents left Australia's borders. That's 31 out of 100 Australian residents travelling overseas! This shows considerable growth from 7.8 million residents travelling abroad in 2011, and from only 3.5 million residents travelling abroad in 2002.

There are a number of factors influencing this rise in international travel; from a strong Australian dollar to competitive airline rates. Perhaps this rising trend also reflects globalisation and the increased ease of international travel.

Of all 29.8 million border crossings in Australia, about half of those were departures with 8.2 million residents leaving to travel abroad. Since 2008 residents departing for international travel now exceed visitors to Australia.

Australians go abroad for short-term (less than 1 year) and long-term (permanent or more than 1 year) travel. The number of residents departing for short-term travel abroad was 6.1 million in 2012, while the number of residents departing for permanent or long-term stay abroad was only 372,000.

Travel destinations

While on holiday to foreign countries, the majority of Australians travelled to the 10 destinations listed below:

  • New Zealand (13.4%)
  • Indonesia (11.1%)
  • United States (10.5%)
  • Thailand (7.6%)
  • United Kingdom, Channel Islands and/or Isle of Man (6%)
  • China (4.6%)
  • Fiji (4%)
  • Singapore (3.7%)
  • Malaysia (3.2%)
  • Hong Kong (2.8%)

In 2012, the median length of holiday was 15 days. The length of time abroad tends to depend largely on the type of travel and the countries of destination. Trips to nearby countries such as Indonesia and New Zealand, for example, tended to be only 7 days for business and 14 days for holiday, while trips to Europe and the United States tended to last 11-16 days for business and a month or more for holidays.

Reasons for travel

Using airline passenger cards to determine reasons for international travel in 2012, the ABC determined that Australian residents depart the country for a wide range of reasons including:

  • 57% travelled on holiday
  • 23% travelled to visit friends and family
  • 10% travelled on business

Age of travellers

The average age of travelling residents has slowly risen over the past decade. In 2002, the peak age group for international travel was those aged 45-49. In 2012, however, the peak age group has changed to those aged 50-54.

The top 3 travelling age-groups are:

  • Ages 50-54 (9.4%)
  • Ages 45-49 (9.3%)
  • Ages 25-29 (9.3%)

Although the proportion of Australian residents travelling abroad continues to decline for those aged 25-49 years of age, including young families with children, the number of these residents choosing to holiday overseas continues to rise. In fact, Tourism Australia has recently launched a campaign targeting the 30-54 age demographic, encouraging them and their families to vacation domestically in order to keep the local tourism economy strong.

International travel by Australian residents continues to grow, and the trend is expected to rise over the next few years. As the global economy slowly recovers, it will be interesting to see how both international departure and arrival trends evolve.

1 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2012 International Movements Report

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