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What’s happening to outbound travel from Australia?

May 17, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The latest graph showing outbound travel from Australia, issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), is causing some concern as it appears to show a downward trend.

The ABS has 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 March 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.

Resident returns, short-term, for the two years from March 2017 to March 2019. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Under the heading ‘trend estimates’ the ABS notes that short-term resident returns during March 2019 (926,500 movements) decreased by 0.3% when compared with February 2019 (929,000 movements). This followed monthly decreases of 0.3% for both January and February 2019. The ABS points out, however, that the current trend estimate for returns is 2% higher than in March 2018.

A seasonally adjusted estimate indicates that during March 2019, short-term resident returns (925,600 movements) increased by 1.5% when compared with February 2019 (911,800 movements). No monthly change was observed for January 2019, whilst a 3.1% decrease was observed for February 2019.

There were 753,500 short-term resident returns to Australia in March 2019.

The most popular countries for Australian travellers in March were, in order, New Zealand, Indonesia (always predominately Bali), the US, Thailand and China.

Now for the fast-growing countries of destination! When trend estimates for short-term resident returns for March 2018 and March 2019 are compared, the highest percentage increases are for India (+10.7%), China (+3.5%) and Hong Kong (+3%). The highest percentage decreases were recorded for Vietnam (-6.8%), the United States of America (-3.9%) and Thailand (-3.1%).

On the arrivals side, meanwhile:

 Short-term visitor arrivals during March 2019 (777,900 movements) virtually flatlined when compared with February 2019 (777,600 movements). This followed two consecutive months where short-term visitor arrivals held steady. The current trend estimate for arrivals is 2.2% higher than in March 2018.

In seasonally adjusted terms, during March 2019, short-term visitor arrivals (770,900 movements) decreased by 1.5% when compared with February 2019 (782,900 movements). This followed a monthly decrease of 0.2% for January 2019 and a negligible increase (0.6%) for February 2019.

There were 836,300 short-term visitor arrivals to Australia in March 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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