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Data notesIn July 2017 the Department of Home Affairs discontinued the outgoing passenger card and introduced changes to the layout of the incoming passenger card in order to capture the main reason for journey for residents returning to Australia, as well as visitors arriving in Australia.


  • There were 1.1 million visitor arrivals during the month of December, up 4.2 per cent relative to the same period of the previous year.

  • There were 9.2 million visitor arrivals for year ending December 2018, an increase of 4.9 per cent relative to the previous year.

As the layout of the potential responses on the card changed from this point, there are some changes to the distribution of responses to the question on main reason for journey for short-term visitor arrivals, most notably an increase in the number of persons reporting that the main reason for travel was visiting friends and relatives and a decline in the number of persons reporting the main reason was a holiday. Following an extensive investigation of this issue, ABS modelling suggests that the proportion of people reporting visiting friends and relatives is approximately 4 percentage points higher, and holiday approximately 4 percentage points lower, after the introduction of the revised card layout. Also following this investigation, improvements have been made by Home Affairs to the process of capturing and coding main reason for journey from the card, and the ABS has further reviewed and made improvements to imputation of reason for journey.

Therefore, when comparing statistics on reason for journey between periods before and after July 2017, users should consider the changes noted above.

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This press release was sourced from Tourism Australia on 19-Feb-2019.