Coronavirus Update: Australia Suffers Largest Overseas Visitors Drop In History

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Coronavirus COVID-19 Australia Airport
French nationals queue to enter Sydney's international airport to be repatriated back to France on April 2, 2020, amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. - The French government has chartered three Airbus A380 aircraft flown by Qatar Airways to repatriate mostly French nationals wanting to return home from Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one from Perth which left March 31, one today from Sydney and a third from Melbourne on April 4. PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images

Tourism numbers are down in Australia the past month because of the coronavirus pandemic. According to federal government data, overseas visitor arrivals have plunged by more than half — the largest fall ever recorded.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released the latest data on overseas visitor arrivals Tuesday. The statistics revealed a 60% drop in people visiting Australia in March compared to the same month in 2019, ABC reported.

The drop is a significant change from February wherein a 12.5% decline was recorded. It also reflects the effects of the travel restrictions and other COVID-19 measures implemented in the country at the height of the pandemic.

"In March 2020, there were 331,900 visitors who had arrived for a short-term trip compared to 836,300 12 months earlier," said Jenny Dobak, ABS director of migration statistics.

There was also a significant plunge in visitors from China. A 77.5% decrease was seen in March, but may continue as the war of words continue between Australia and China. Australia raised its travel advisory on China to “do not travel” as early as February 1. It also banned visitors from the country.

Aside from China, Japanese and Malaysian visitors have also dropped in number, at 75% and 68.5% respectively. Travelers from UK (46.8%) and the USA (61.5%) also saw significant fall.  Interstate travel is also historically low.

"The steep fall in visitor arrivals to Australia in March was from all regions around the world," Dobak said.

"Even our largest source country, New Zealand, recorded a 56 per cent drop."

Despite these numbers, Australia has been successful in slowing down the spread of the coronavirus in the country. As of May 12, 9:20 p.m. Sydney time, there are 6,970 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 97 deaths. This is a stark difference from the United States with 1.3 million cases and 81,796 deaths, according to Worldometer data.

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