Thursday, February 9, 2012

Our grey nomads lead global charge

OLDER people are leading the way in Australia's invasion of the world. In a decade, the number of people over 60 taking overseas trips has trebled from 383,000 to almost 1.2 million, the fastest age-group growth in Australia's rapidly expanding tourist army.

The Bureau of Statistics reports that in 2011, Australians made a record 7.8 million trips overseas, 10 per cent more than in 2010 and well over double the 3.4 million trips that we took in 2001.

Roughly 150,000 left the country each week, flush with strong Australian dollars, to explore destinations from Auckland to Amsterdam.

Bureau analysis shows that while Australians of all ages are travelling overseas far more than a decade ago, the biggest growth has been among those between 55 and 74, and children aged under 10, as retirees and families increasingly embark on overseas trips.

New Zealand remains the top destination of Australian tourists, who made 1.1 million trips to the Shaky Isles last year. But Indonesia is the fastest-growing destination, with Australian visitors there mushrooming from 195,000 to 878,000 in the past five years.

The United States (798,000) is the third biggest destination, Thailand (552,500) fourth and Britain (488,000) fifth, with China (369,000) and Fiji (337,000).