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Media release - USA becomes Australian travellers' favourite holiday destination

Date Posted: 24/02/2013 10:33:00 AM

The USA has overtaken Bali as Australian travellers’ favourite destination in data released today by Australia’s leading provider of travel insurance and emergency assistance, Cover-More.

According to Cover-More’s travel insurance sales in 2012, Bali has fallen from the top spot, with people travelling to the USA up 18% in 2012 compared to 2011. Sales to people travelling to Bali were up just 3%.

The USA might not hold the top spot for long though, with Australians cruising in the South Pacific up a massive 165% in 2012 compared to 2011. The emergence of cruise specialist travel agencies is another sign of Australians’ burgeoning infatuation with cruising.

The data also shows that Australia's love affair with Thailand rages on, with the tropical Asian destination remaining in third place (up 5% on 2011).

The popularity of Japan also soared 25% in 2012—undoubtedly the strength of the Aussie dollar against the Yen, the recovery from the devastation of the 2011 tsunami and the increasing popularity of Japan’s ski fields are combining to entice more travellers than ever before.

Cover-More Strategy and Marketing Manager Zac Brookes said: “The Aussie dollar has been very strong against the greenback for some years now, so we have seen a steady increase in the popularity of travel to the USA for the past few years. The AUD’s strength against the Euro, and the fact the international travel is cheaper than it has ever been, also means that trips to Europe remain strong. Travel insurance sales for Italy, France and Germany were up 14%, 15% and 25% respectively.

“Extreme weather appears to have negatively impacted travel to Fiji and Vanuatu in the past year, as they are each down 10% and 25% compared to 2011.”

Once a no-go zone, the Philippines experienced an 18% increase in 2012 when compared to 2011, and Vietnam has crept onto the top 10 list for travel bookings for the first time, up 7% on 2011.

On the recent popularity of cruise holidays, Brookes said not only are Australians loving cruising, they understand the importance of taking out international travel insurance even though they may only be cruising in Australian waters.

“Some Australians have made the mistake of not getting medical cover on a domestic cruise and have then been faced with significant out of pocket expenses when they needed medical attention. International travel insurance will cover medical assistance you receive on board where medical bills typically fall outside Medicare and health fund cover,” said Brookes.

“Based on feedback from our partners, it appears Australians are travelling overseas more than ever, buoyed by an enduringly strong Aussie dollar, the competitiveness of international fares and a thirst to discover new destinations.”

According to the data, in order, the top 10 international travel destinations for Australians in 2012 were:

  1. United States of America
  2. Indonesia (Bali)
  3. Thailand
  4. England
  5. New Zealand
  6. Fiji
  7. Cruising the South Pacific
  8. Italy
  9. France
  10. Vietnam

With its spike in popularity, the USA also holds top spot for the highest number of claims paid. The high cost of care in the US medical system means that travellers struck down with even the most straightforward illnesses while on holiday can ratchet up bills totalling tens of thousands of dollars.

“Just as each destination offers a unique travel experience, each country differs in the most common policy claims we receive from travellers. For travellers who fall ill in the USA, even treatment for minor ailments can quickly escalate into thousands of dollars in health care due to the high costs of the US medical system. While for travellers heading to Bali or Thailand, comprehensive insurance and medical assistance to ensure you get the right health care is a must,” said Brookes.

“We are thrilled to see more and more Australians embrace overseas travel, but travelling with comprehensive insurance is essential. We support the Australian Government’s message—if you can afford to travel, you can afford travel insurance.”

Cover-More travel insurance sales, across the board, were up in 2012.

Cover-More is Australia’s largest travel insurance provider, with approximately one in four Australians departing for an overseas holiday with a Cover-More policy.