Overseas arrivals in May were down 99.5 per cent from a year ago. Image by Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS

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Few overseas arrivals in May amid virus

2020-07-13 11:59:43

Overseas arrivals to Australia continued to stay at minuscule levels in May as travel restrictions stay in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

There were just 3,440 overseas visitors in May, an increase from the previous month but down 99.5 per cent from a year ago, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows.

Another 13,380 Australian residents also returned during the month, a 98.5 per cent slump from a year ago. Almost a fifth was made up of residents returning from India.

Thousands of Australians have registered with overseas embassies since the outbreak of coronavirus as the government organises flights to evacuate them back home.

Of the overseas arrivals, almost a third of the visitors were from New Zealand – Australia’s largest source country – followed by the United Kingdom and United States.

Australia first barred entry for foreign nationals travelling from mainland China on February 1 in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The incoming travel ban was gradually extended to several countries that became virus hotspots before borders were shut to all non-residents from March 21.

The slide in May numbers comes on top of a 60 per cent decline in overseas arrivals in March, and a 99 per cent slump in numbers in April.

Australia’s tourism industry is likely to cop heavy economic damage from the coronavirus lockdown, with international travel bans expected to remain until July 2021.

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission estimates this impact to be as much as $55 billion over the next financial year.