Hottest destinations for Australians revealed

Aussie favourite ... tourists relax on Kuta beach in Bali.
Aussie favourite ... tourists relax on Kuta beach in Bali. Photo: AFP

Thailand, Indonesia and the US are still the hottest destinations for Australians, who are continuing to travel overseas in record numbers.

Each of the three had big increases in Australian visitors in the past 12 months, but they have not surpassed New Zealand, which remains the No. 1 destination for outbound Aussies.

Australians took advantage of the strong dollar and took a record 8 million overseas trips last year, an overall increase of 8 per cent on the previous financial year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

"This meant that an extra 6000 Australians per day decided to take a trip overseas compared to just three years earlier," said Sean Thompson, the bureau's assistant director of tourism statistics.

The top five favourite destinations for Australians were New Zealand (1.1 million visitors), Indonesia (910,000 visitors), the US (819,000 visitors), Thailand (600,000 visitors), and Britain (487,000 visitors).

The number of Australian travellers to Thailand rose by 23 per cent, to Indonesia by 13 per cent, and to the US by 9 per cent in the past 12 months.

The figures are even more impressive when compared to those in 2008-09, when the Australian dollar was around US75ยข compared to $US1.03 last year.

Since 2008-09, tourism to Indonesia has more than doubled, while the number of Australians heading to Thailand and the US has increased by about 60 per cent.

Flight Centre spokesman Colin Bowman said that in addition to booming bookings to those places, Britain was also performing well.

"Perhaps there is some latent demand after people put off travelling there because of the Olympic Games," he said.

"There has also been a fair bit of publicity about the alternative ways of getting there, including the Qantas/Emirates tie-up through Dubai and Etihad via Abu Dhabi.

"New Zealand is also as popular as ever," he said. "The publicity around The Hobbit last year has helped and the Kiwis have been very good at marketing different styles of holidays such as ski, food and wine, and fly/drive in the South Island."

Mr Bowman said Thailand and Indonesia continued to trade on their strong beach culture while good airfares were helping boost visitor numbers to the US, particularly New York, which has come back into vogue.

The outbound figures are contained in a report released last week by the Bureau of Statistics that also showed that tourism contributes more than $112 million a day to the Australian economy, outpacing industries such as agriculture; forestry and fishing; construction; and transport.

Despite the high numbers of Australians travelling overseas, the news isn't all bleak on the home front. The number of visitors coming here from other countries has also continued to rise.

Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said: "The high dollar is not new, and is something our industry has had to adapt to, rather than hide behind.

"The reality is that we're coming off the back of three years of solid growth [in overseas visitors coming to Australia]. Last year was a record for international visitors, up nearly 5 per cent to 6.1 million, with the country showing little sign of losing its global appeal."

Records have also been set by the Australian cruise industry, with passenger numbers surging 11 per cent to 694,062 last year, according to a report released this week.

The Cruise Lines International Association also said that in the past four years the number of Australians taking a cruise doubled.

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