australian aviation logo

Exclusive: International passengers decline despite tourist ban lifting

written by Adam Thorn | April 28, 2022

A Singapore Airlines A350-900 (9V-SMB) at Brisbane Airport. (William Percival-Hayes)

The number of international passengers passing through Australian airports actually declined in February despite the border opening to tourists.

New data shows 436,000 international passengers travelled in February, compared to 442,000 the month prior.

It significantly comes despite Australia allowing tourists to enter the country on 21 February after two years of closure and hopes of an explosion in travel sparked by pent-up demand.

The figures, released by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE), also show Singapore is currently the biggest international carrier, flying 20 per cent of all passengers.

It will though be difficult to compare months in 2022, given varying state and country COVID restrictions in the two years prior, and the traditional popularity of Christmas travel in Australia.

In February, Australian Aviation reported how Tourism Australia launched a $40 million global campaign to bring international travellers back down under.

It was the first widespread international campaign that the government tourism body has been able to produce and run since before the COVID pandemic and the 2020 bushfire crisis.


Titled “Don’t Go Small. Go Australia”, it included a 30-second ad that was rolled out across Germany, France, Italy, the US and UK.

The 30-second TV advertisement featured a montage of iconic Australian landscapes, such as the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Harbour and Uluru.

The Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan, said then that Tourism Australia had been long preparing to ramp-up its international marketing efforts.

“The world has been waiting two years to get Down Under for a holiday and our latest ad campaign will remind them of what they’ve been missing,” Tehan said.

“After COVID-19, the world is looking forward to taking a holiday and we want that holiday to be in Australia.

“This new campaign is just the first step in a long-term strategy to restart tourism to Australia, with further investment in tourism marketing campaigns internationally to come in the second half of the year.”

Domestically, however, the situation appears far more positive. Earlier this month, Gold Coast Airport became Australia’s first major airport to fully recover from COVID, with passenger and flight numbers beating pre-pandemic records.

The facility welcomed and bid farewell to almost 25,000 people on Easter Monday, a new monthly record, and not far off the all-time record of 25,455 passengers on 4 January 2020.

The news comes after Qantas said its domestic capacity is set to reach 110 per cent of pre-pandemic levels at Easter and data showing overall flight numbers recovering from the Omicron surge.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Each day, our subscribers are more informed with the right information.

SIGN UP to the Australian Aviation magazine for high-quality news and features for just $99.95 per year

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.