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Outbound poised to take off, latest ABS stats indicate

July 15, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Australia’s economy may have come off the boil, but outbound travel is poised for a big leap, with newly released Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) outbound travel estimates going through the roof as shown in the graph below.

India and Japan are currently hot destinations. Singapore and the US appear to be waning – at the moment, anyway.

On Friday, the ABS published trend estimates for short-term resident returns (a means of working out where Australians have been and where others are likely to head) for the month of May 2019, the most recent data available.

In the graph (below), the black line shows the trend estimate and the more erratic grey line shows the seasonally adjusted estimate. As you can see, the grey line has recovered from a dip and is shooting almost straight up.

THE OUTBOUND PICTURE. Resident returns, short-term, for the two years from May 2017 to May 2019. The black line shows the trend estimate and the more erratic grey line shows the seasonally adjusted estimate. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

The happy result follows some lacklustre months. Short-term resident returns during May 2019 (941,900 movements) increased by 0.6% when compared with April 2019 (936,700 movements). This followed monthly increases of 0.2% for March 2019 and 0.4% for April 2019.

When compared to May 2018, however, the current trend estimate for returns is 2.2% higher.

The real turnaround is shown in seasonally adjusted estimates: during May 2019, short-term resident returns (974,500 movements) increased by 5.8% when compared with April 2019 (920,900 movements). This followed a monthly increase of 1.5% for March 2019 and a monthly decrease of 0.7% for April 2019.

Original estimates show there were 866,300 short-term resident returns to Australia in May 2019.

The fast-growing countries of destination, when trend estimates for short-term resident returns for May 2018 and May 2019 are compared: India (11.8%); Japan (4.9%); and Indonesia (2.8%). The highest percentage decreases were recorded for Singapore (-9.8%), the US (-4.2%) and Thailand (-0.5%).

The inbound picture is looking equally rosy, with travel to Australia from northern neighbour Indonesia being the standout.

When trend estimates for short-term visitor arrivals for May 2018 and May 2019 were compared, the highest percentage increases were recorded for Indonesia (20.5%), followed by the United States of America (11.9%) and Japan (11.4%). The highest percentage decreases were recorded for Malaysia (-11.3%), China (-1.2%) and the United Kingdom (-0.8%).

Trend estimates show short-term visitor arrivals during May 2019 (789,600 movements) increasing by 0.6% when compared with April 2019 (785,000 movements). This followed monthly increases of 0.4% for March 2019 and 0.5% for April 2019. The current trend estimate for arrivals is 2.9% higher than in May 2018.

THE INBOUND PICTURE. Visitor arrivals, short-term, for the two years from May 2017 to May 2019. The black line shows the trend estimate and the more erratic grey line shows the seasonally adjusted estimate. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Seasonally adjusted estimates show that during May 2019, short-term visitor arrivals (816,600 movements) increased by 6.3% when compared with April 2019 (768,500 movements). This followed monthly decreases of 1.8% for March 2019 and 0.1% for April 2019. Original estimates reveal 668,300 short-term visitor arrivals to Australia in May 2019.

The ABS advises that the statistics are subject to sampling error, so care should be taken when interpreting the impact of numeric and/or percentage changes.

Written by Peter Needham

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