Gap Year students flock to South East Asia over Australia

Record numbers of gap year students are shunning Australia in favour of South East Asia, according to research from Travelex.

In a survey of 2,000 gap year students, three quarters of those planning to travel on their gap year said they were not intending to visit Australia, with many planning to travel to South East Asia instead.

This survey is supported by stats from the Australian Tourist Board (ATB), stating that tourist numbers have dropped by 13% in the last four years, equating to nearly 100,000 tourists. UK backpackers alone are down by 21,000 year-on-year.

This drop in numbers is seen to be caused by the drop in value of the British Pound against the Australian Dollar, currently at a 26 year low. Another reason cited is the rising cost of living in Australia.

Of those who have visited Australia in the last 12 months, 19% admitted that they spent significantly over budget, whilst 60% said that it was the most expensive destination on their travels.

Peter Davies, spokesperson for Travelex, said: “The constant decline in the value of the Pound against the Australian Dollar has had a marked impact on travellers. This is especially so for gap year students who are traditionally looking to travel on the cheap. £100 would buy you $153 Australian Dollars today, but four years ago the same amount would have bought you $234, a decrease of over 35%. The same applies to New Zealand, where even within a year the Pound has dropped around 7% compared to New Zealand Dollar."

In 2007 students looking to make the first big cash exchange on their trip would have received $1,172.40 for every £500. Backpackers exchanging the same amount today would only receive $766.45 – a loss of $405.95.

For those who are deciding to travel to South East Asia over Australia, then see out Thailand section for more information.