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Australian holiday-makers’ top overseas destinations

April 14, 2016 Statistics & Trends No Comments Print Print Email Email

In 2015, 2.7 million Australians aged 14+ (or 13.9% of the population) took an overseas holiday – the highest number in years. 

Despite the less-than-robust Aussie dollar and the undeniable spectre of terrorism, holiday-makers are jetting off in droves, the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research reveal.

No prizes for guessing which overseas destination was most visited by Australians on their last holiday: not only is it cheap and almost within cooee distance, it’s jam-packed with natural and cultural attractions…yes, it’s New Zealand! Last year, 11.7% of Aussies whose last holiday was overseas travelled to the Land of the Long White Cloud, putting it comfortably ahead of England (10.4%) and the United States (10.1%).


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January – December 2015 (n=1,766).

When we look at international travel by each generation**, however, a rather different picture emerges.  While New Zealand was the most popular overseas destination among Generation X (15.4%) and Generation Y (11.5%) holiday-makers last year, England was a clear favourite for Pre-Boomers (18.5%) and Baby Boomers (14.3%) and the United States narrowly topped the list for Generation Z (10.7%).

Top Five overseas destinations visited on last trip: by generation


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January-December 2015 (n=1,766). Source: Australians 14+ whose last holiday was overseas. **NB: Roy Morgan ‘Generations’ definitions: Pre-Boomers — Born pre-1946; Baby Boomers — born 1946-1960; Generation X — born 1961-1975; Generation Y — born 1976-1990; Generation Z — born 1991-2005.As well as their mutual penchant for travel to England, Pre-Boomers and Baby Boomers share several other overseas holiday spots in common, with ‘classic’ destinations New Zealand, United States and France all featuring in their Top Fives. But whereas Singapore is the only Asian destination in the Pre-Boomer generation’s Top Five, Baby Boomers are more likely to choose Indonesia (with most heading to Bali).

Asia features more prominently among the overseas holiday spots popular with Generations X and Y: Indonesia (9.7%; again, mainly Bali) and Thailand (9.3%) for the former; and India (7.5%), Thailand (7.5%) and Malaysia (6.9%) for the latter.

Meanwhile, with their discernibly European focus, the Top Five destinations visited by Generation Z on their last overseas holiday have more in common with those favoured by Boomer generations than those of Gens Y and X. While it should be noted that many of these younger travellers took their last holiday with their parents, 15.9% travelled by themselves, 9.0% went with a school/university group and 7.3% went with a friend or small group of friends.

Angela Smith, Account Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“More Australians took an overseas holiday last year than they have for years, with perennial favourite New Zealand sitting pretty as the most popular destination. And why not? As well as being virtually a hop, skip and jump away for Aussies on the eastern seaboard, it tends to be easier on the wallet than Europe or the US. While many other familiar foreign favourites continue to attract Australian holiday-makers, the past decade has seen Hong Kong and China slip from the Top 10 as newly popular destinations Indonesia and Germany move in.

“On top of shifting destination trends, tourism operators, travel agents and destination marketers must naturally stay abreast of the holiday preferences of different generations. For example, England may be number one for the Boomer generations, but it doesn’t even crack the Top Five for Generation Y. In contrast, India draws 7.5% of Gen Y holidaymakers but rates consistently low for the other generations.

“Of course, generation is just one variable influencing a person’s travel choices. To truly understand Australia’s holiday-goers, factors such as income, interests, attitudes and leisure activities must also be taken into account. With the help of Roy Morgan’s Single Source database, travel/tourism industry players can identify their target market with unprecedented accuracy, thereby gaining the insights to communicate with them in a way that hits the bull’s eye.”

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