Australia suffered a 26 per cent decrease in arrivals in February compared to the same month a year ago, according to new data.
The findings come with the release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS’) annual overseas arrivals and departures data, which this year showed the effects of the international outbreak of COVID-19 and the early February ban on arrivals from Australia’s chief source country: China.
“Although China was previously the largest source country for visitors for this month, it had decreased by nearly 90 per cent when compared to a year ago,” ABS director of migration statistics Jenny Dobak said.
Moreover, the overall fall in short term trips across the country for February represents a 12.5 per cent decrease since the previous month to 647,000 trips.
Among Australia’s top 10 source countries, the highest annual decreases beyond China were recorded for Hong Kong (down 28 per cent), Singapore (down 25 per cent), and Germany (down 16 per cent).
Decreases in visitor arrivals were seen across all states and territories. However, the ACT recorded the most significant drop (down 37 per cent), followed by Victoria (down 29.9) and Tasmania (down 29.4).
An increase of 16 per cent was, however, recorded for those travelling to Australia from India.
In addition, an increase of 5.3 per cent for Australian residents returning from overseas was recorded, with 785,400 arriving home in the year to February.
In response to the bureau’s visitor arrivals data, the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) is calling for the ABS and Tourism Research Australia, which released its latest international and domestic visitor figures last week, to lobby governments and key stakeholders on the work required for tourism to recover.
“ATIC again calls on the Australian government and respective state government tourism organisations to refocus their attention on repurposing and reprioritising our domestic tourism market which has always been the economic backbone of our industry,” ATIC executive director Simon Westaway said.
“ATIC’s policy consistency is for Tourism Australia to have a permanent return to domestic tourism, and particularly over the short to medium term, have its primary focus around a more resilient and future recovering domestic tourism industry.”
The ABS has advised trend estimates have been suspended from February 2020 for all short-term visitor arrivals and short-term resident returns series due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international travel.
It comes as Australia’s Minister for Tourism revealed the country’s international travel ban could extend into 2021.
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