Australians trade New Zealand holidays for Bali’s beaches

Jungut Batu beach on Nusa Lembongan.

Jungut Batu beach on Nusa Lembongan. Photo: Getty

Aussies have swapped the snowfields of Queenstown for the beaches of Bali, with our trans-Tasman neighbours no longer the favourite holiday destination for the first time on record.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, around 1.37 million Australians made the trip to Indonesia in 2023, comfortably ahead of the 1.26 million who travelled to New Zealand.

Jenny Dobak, head of migration for the Australian Bureau of Statistics, said New Zealand has been the leading destination since records began nearly 50 years ago, making this a significant achievement for Indonesia.

Indonesia is now the favourite holiday destination for Australians. Photo: Getty

Why Indonesia?

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australians account for more than a quarter of all tourists in Bali, averaging around 109,000 a month.

Bali has long been a favourite destination for Australians and before the pandemic we were travelling there in droves due to the lure of its beaches, laid-back atmosphere and proximity, but there is plenty more to see in Indonesia.

New Zealand's first six-star hotel has opened in Queenstown.

Plenty of Australians are still making the jaunt over to New Zealand for holidays to places like Queenstown. Photo: Getty

Simon Mustoe, CEO of travel advisory agency DeluxeLife, said Australians are gradually realising the diversity of Indonesia.

“You start with Java, some of the the temples there rival anything that you see in places like Cambodia and Vietnam,” he said.

“Move to Sulawesi and you’ve got an incredible cultural diversity, you’ve also got an island with a higher degree of … unique animals than Madagascar.”

The area’s popularity is set to become even more lucrative for the Indonesian Government, after it introduced a tourist tax in Bali earlier this month.

The fee, which is about $15, has to be paid for every person entering Bali, and it is strongly encouraged that it is paid before arrival.

Love Bali, a movement initiated by the Bali Provincial Government, hopes the new charge will “trigger the revival” of the island’s tourism.

Indonesia has also pleaded with Australians to both respect local customs and explore the country beyond Bali’s beaches after tourists made headlines for poor behaviour.

It has since introduced how-to-behave guidelines that are given to tourists upon arrival, which include how to dress and act appropriately at religious sites after the country deported six Australians in 2023.

Bouncing back

Australians love to travel, but they still haven’t returned to pre-COVID levels of holidaying.

Last year, almost 10 million Australians took a short-term trip overseas, compared with over 11 million in 2019.

“We can also see that short-term resident returns are recovering quicker than short-term visitor arrivals,” Dobak said.

“This shows that there are more Australians going overseas for a short-term trip than international visitors coming to Australia.”

pictured is someone at the airport to represent travel insurance

Australians heading overseas outnumber foreign tourists arriving domestically. Photo: Getty

Seven million international visitors arrived in Australia for a holiday in 2023, compared to 9.5 million in 2019.

The highest number of visitors arrived from New Zealand, the USA and the United Kingdom.

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