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CATO - logoIn a revealing new report, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has shared critical insights into the international travel habits of Australians in 2023. The “Australians on Holiday – International Leisure Travel Trends” study, compiled from Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, CATO member insights, and independent consumer surveys, sheds light on Australian travellers’ evolving preferences and behaviours in the post-pandemic era.

Outbound Travel Insights

The report indicates that in 2023, nearly 9,975,170 Australians travelled overseas, a 12% decrease from 2019. Of these, 5,676,550 journeys were for holidays, accounting for 57% of all outbound travel. This demonstrates a resilient interest in international leisure travel despite global challenges.

Touring Sector Highlights

A standout in the international travel sector is the popularity of land-based multi-day tours. In 2023, 483,250 Australians embarked on these tours, generating a staggering $4.4 billion in expenditure. Traditional coach tours were particularly favoured, attracting 225,319 participants who collectively spent $2.1 billion. These figures underscore the touring sector’s significant impact on overall travel spending and highlight a trend toward more immersive travel experiences.

Top Destinations

Indonesia emerged as the top destination for Australian travellers, with 1,179,150 visits, followed by New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, and the USA. Despite a 7% decline in travel to Southeast Asia, the region remains a favourite. Interestingly, Southern and Eastern Europe saw a 6% increase in Australian visitors, indicating a growing interest in these areas.

Spending Patterns

The average expenditure per traveller was $6,690, contributing to a total international leisure travel spend of over $50 billion. Although this represents a 22% decrease from 2019, the figures signal a steady recovery and a positive outlook for future spending.

Demographic Insights

The report reveals that leisure travellers aged 18-35 comprised the largest demographic group at 28%, followed by those aged 36-50 at 23%. Couples were the primary travel group (35%), with families with children under 18 (20%) and solo travellers (17%) also constituting significant segments.

Travel Timing and Planning

July to September was the peak period for leisure travel, with Australians spending an average of 17.7 days abroad and visiting 3.1 countries per trip. This accounted for 30% of all trips. A majority (62%) booked their trips within six months of departure, predominantly using traditional booking channels, with 70% relying on a mix of online and offline retailers.

Travel Insurance

An impressive 82% of leisure travellers purchased travel insurance primarily to cover medical emergencies (84%) and trip cancellations (64%). This high uptake reflects a growing awareness of the importance of travel insurance in safeguarding against unforeseen events.

The 2023 “Australians on Holiday—International Leisure Travel Trends” report highlights a vibrant rebound in international travel, echoing patterns seen in 2019. These insights are invaluable for the travel industry, providing a better roadmap to serve Australian travellers’ evolving needs and preferences. For a deeper dive into these trends, click here.




Written by: Soo James