Australians can’t wait to leave: outbound travel up 3X over 20 years

It looks like the best place for vacation, if you’re Australian, is anywhere else. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, outbound travel surged from 2.1 million a year to 6.8 million a year over the past 20 years. For the 12 months ending last June, 6.8 million overseas trips originated in Australia. Two decades earlier, it was only 2.1 million. At today’s levels, there are 31 overseas trips made per 100 Australians.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The ABS says the unprecedented increase is due to a combination of factors including more affordable travel and accommodation, partly due to the strength of the Australian dollar, and increasing competition between airlines.

What’s really interesting is that Australians are leaving the homeland for fun rather than profit: leisure travel was good for 82 percent of overseas trips.

So, if you’re Australian, where do you go? Well, New Zealand. The country’s neighbor attracted 1.1 million Australians.

[photo by Pascal Vuylsteker via Flickr]

Immigration law costs Arizona hotels a bundle

The cost of closing down the borders may be higher than you think. At least, that’s what the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association is saying. Tourists have cut back their visits to the state, the association believes, because of the recent controversial immigration law. Tourism and travel companies claim they’ve lost millions of dollars because of how the state is being perceived.

According to ABC 15 in Arizona:

“I think any time there’s something controversial that would even cause a group to think there’s something negative it’s an easy choice when you have so many other destinations to choose from,” said Debbie Johnson, President and CEO of the association.

Of course, there are claims that the economy – not immigration laws – is responsible for the drop in Arizona tourism business, and to a certain extent, this is true. Some hotels have sustained 40 percent drops in call activity, and hotels are saying that some groups are backing out of tentative bookings because of the immigration law.

[photo by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr]

Travel recovery watch: International travel and spending up says Department of Commerce

Last May, 3.6 million non-stop air passengers left the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Who cares? Well, the travel industry does, as this indicates an 8 percent year-over-year increase and the fifth month to show a gain since December 2009. The top outbound markets were Europe, the Caribbean, Asia and Mexico. Air travel was up for the Caribbean, Asia and Mexico, with Europe posting a decline of 1 percent year-over-year for the month of May. Departures to Mexico, the Middle East and Oceania showed the strongest growth: 68 percent, 19 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

For the first five months of this year, outbound air traffic ticked 3 percent higher compared to the same period in 2009, hitting 15.1 million. And, positive growth occurred in five of the eight overseas regions, the U.S. Department of Commerce reports.

While the growth story is solid, don’t forget that were measuring against a severely depressed baseline. Travel and tourism spending was in the tank last year, following the global financial crisis triggered in September 2008. Though the numbers are headed in the right direction, the road to a full recovery remains long.

What is interesting is that more Americans are traveling, and they’re spending more while doing so, showing that the travel market recovery may have some legs. U.S. travelers spent $2.4 billion on foreign air carriers in May 2010, a year-over-year surge of 19 percent.

[photo by uggboy via Flickr]

Pre-nuptial last rites get fun, expensive

Bachelor parties used to be so simple. A bunch of guys would cram into a limo, get wasted and let the sounds of Motley Crue fill their ears while some nice young lady works her way through college a dollar bill at a time. Eventually, you’d go home and wake up sans cash, stomach contents and a few brain cells. I’m not sure what bachelorette parties involved, but I suspect there are many similarities and the differences being limited to the anatomy of the performers and the guests.

All this is changing.

The parties used to celebrate the end of single life are becoming long, intricate and costly.Las Vegas is the top destination, followed by Florida, and the average price for one of these getaways has reached a substantial $1,250 a person. The guests are usually on the hook for their own tickets.

The tourism and travel industry, looking for ways to climb out from a two-year economic hole, sees the pre-wedding party business as a way to draw some more cash into the coffers, especially for those who are looking to have as many “last hurrahs” as possible. Travel agents and destinations are even creating programs designed to appeal to this specific segment.Notes Alex Trettin, of Travel Leaders in Tacoma, Washington, to Reuters:

“We’ve created a number of programs for brides- and grooms- to-be. Most popular are Vegas and short cruises,” he said. “Even with the economy in a slowdown, more and more people are using this as an opportunity to get together with friends.”

In a further departure from tradition, some final flings are combined, with the soon-to-be spouses hitting the same destination at the same time. Once on the ground, though, the parties split to enjoy different activities.

Yeah, pre-marital partying has come a long way. But, I’ll still take a seedy strip club with “Doctor Feelgood” and a would-be medical student over the alternatives. I believe in tradition.

[photo of Social Vixen by Steve Zak]

Brit travel abroad plunged: blame the business travelers

The homes in Britain must be incredibly cozy – because nobody left them. Travel from the UK fell to its lowest levels since the 1970s, thanks to the hangover from the September 2008 financial crisis. The number of people crossing a border dropped 15 percent year-over-year, with only 58.6 million visits abroad taking place.

As usual, the business traveler is stuck with the blame for this. Cell phone-toting, laptop-wielding road warriors in the UK allowed travel to plummet almost 25 percent from 2008 to 2009. Now, it’s not just that travel budgets got a little tighter. You also need to keep in mind that hefty layoffs thinned the herd of potential business travelers.

[photo by Dimitry B via Flickr]