Where are Australians travelling to?

19 February 2016
Australians love to travel, both domestically and overseas. This article highlights the most popular tourist destinations for Australian residents over the past 10 years, as well as expected travel trends for the coming year.

Travel trends over the past 10 years

The following information, taken from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, shows the 10 most popular destinations for Australian residents travelling internationally in that year, as well as the percentage change over the 10 year period.

Short-term departures: 2005-2015 (000’s)
2005 2015 % change
New Zealand 832.3 New Zealand 1237.5 48.7%
UK 402.2 Indonesia 1118.7 223.0%
USA 396.3 USA 980.8 147.5%
Indonesia 346.4 UK 552.6 37.4%
China 214.5 Thailand 549.5 194.0%
Fiji 190.3 China 413.2 92.6%
Thailand 186.9 Singapore 361.7 112.7%
Singapore 170 Fiji 335.5 76.3%
Hong Kong 169.3 India 280.7 228.5%
Malaysia 155.4 Japan 268.3 177.3%
Total 4576.9 Total 9221.5 125.7%

Source: abs.gov.au

As the table shows, there were approximately 9.2 million short-term departures in 2015, which is more than double the amount from 10 years prior. The large increase in travel coincided with the high value of the Australian dollar, as well as cut-price air fares. The survey found that the main reasons for travel were:

  • Holidays, accounting for 59% of all departures
  • Visiting friends and relatives at 24%
  • Business, at 9%

Travel trends for 2016Looking at the figures above, some interesting trends appear. The most obvious being the 223% increase in visits to Indonesia, which may be due to the emergence of Bali as a popular schoolies destination for recent school leavers. India and Japan are also newcomers to the 2015 top 10, replacing Hong Kong and Malaysia. India in particular recorded the strongest growth of any destination over the ten year period, at 228.5%.

According to wotif.com, the lower AUD is somewhat diminishing Australians’ appetites for international travel, with 47% saying that the weakened dollar has them planning more domestic trips. For the remaining 53% who are still looking to travel overseas, they may be looking for bargain destinations.

Wotif believes that the most popular countries for Australian visitors in 2016 will be the usual trio of the USA, New Zealand and Indonesia, plus Japan, Italy and Cananda.  Japan is an emerging favourite for Aussies during the skiing season, and New Zealand still offers good value for the Australian dollar.They also expect Hawaii to be an in-demand destination for travellers this year, as the USA is still popular despite the AUD fetching just 71 US cents (at time of writing).

Earlier this year, tripadvisor.com.au surveyed 44,000 people to determine what Australians look for in an overseas trip. According to the survey;

  • 63% of travellers say that air-conditioning is a must have for their destination of choice, more-so than breakfast (40%) or a swimming pool (26%)
  • 46% feel that in-room wifi is a must-have, and that they will look elsewhere if accomodation does not provide it
  • In adddition to this, 11% of travellers are willing to pay extra for super-fast wifi

Due to the low value of the AUD, many will be looking for good-value hotel deals that provide these things. However, tripadvisor found that 47% of global hotel retailers plan to increasetheir room rates in 2016. Most of these accomodations are looking to increase their rates in order to compensate for increased overhead costs (65%), whereas more than a third are doing it due to increased demand.

Based on these facts, it would be sensible to assume that international travel will either decrease slightly or remain roughly the same throughout 2016, with the majority of travellers looking for cheaper deals to accommodate for rising hotel costs and the low value of the Australian dollar.

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