Visitor arrivals in Australia crashed 60 per cent year-on-year in March, according to new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The highest drop on record came in addition to a 29 per cent slump in residents returning from short trips, defined as those lasting less than a year.
The figures show the effects of Australia’s multiple travel bans, which began with barring Chinese visitors and ended with all non-residents being blocked from entering the country. Those that now arrive must complete two weeks of isolation in a hotel room.
ABS director of migration statistics, Jenny Dobak, said, “The steep fall in visitor arrivals to Australia in March was from all regions around the world. Even our largest source country, New Zealand, recorded a 56 per cent drop.
“Of the top 10 source countries, China recorded the largest decrease of 78 per cent, followed closely by Japan with a decrease of 75 per cent.”
All states and territories recorded large falls in international visitors.
NSW saw the largest volume of international arrivals (114,500 visitors), but even numbers there were down 64 per cent compared to one year earlier.
The Northern Territory saw the largest fall (-66 per cent). Queensland also saw a steep decline in visitor numbers (-63 per cent), followed by Victoria (-58 per cent), South Australia (-54 per cent), Western Australia (-53 per cent), Tasmania (-51 per cent) and the ACT (-43 per cent).
On 1 February, Australia followed the US in effectively banning visitors from China, and on 18 March Prime Minister Scott Morrison lifted the country’s travel restrictions to a level 4, the highest, advising Australians not to leave the country.
“That is the first time that has ever happened in Australia’s history,” he said. “The travel advice to every Australian is, ‘Do not travel abroad. Do not go overseas.’ That is a very clear instruction. For those who are thinking of going overseas in the school holidays, don’t. Don’t go overseas.”