The number of Australian residents heading abroad rose faster than visitor arrivals in October, thanks partly to the Rugby World Cup.
But the underlying trends still favour a solid boost to the economy from travel and tourism.
In October, the number of Australian residents venturing abroad rose by 3.9 per cent, the biggest monthly rise for a year and a half, very likely influenced by the Rugby World Cup in the UK.
The flow of Australian residents – who include New Zealanders with resident status – heading to the UK jumped by 13 per cent in October, the strongest monthly rise for three and half years.
Despite this one-off exodus, the number of overseas visitors still rose more than the number of departures over the past year – 8 per cent for arrivals compared with 9 per cent for departures.
And China, including Hong Kong, cemented its place at the top of the list of sources of inbound travellers, after the previous month toppling New Zealand from the perch it had snatched from Japan in mid-1999.
China’s lead expanded in October, with 116,200 visitors to Australia, including 19,600 from Hong Kong, compared with 108,000 from across the Tasman.
Visitors from New Zealand in October were up only two per cent from a year before, while China’s contribution to inbound travel was up by 25 per cent.
But the bureau’s estimate of the month-to-month trends show the gap is currently expanding even more rapidly than that, with the flow from New Zealand now falling at a annualised rate of three per cent and numbers arriving from China growing by 33 per cent.
That pattern may have been exaggerated in September and October by a preference of Kiwis to travel to the UK to watch their team beat Australia’s in the Rugby World Cup, but it’s just a variation on a theme that’s now well-established.