Back To Listing

Japan shines as increasingly popular travel destination – attracting a particular kind of holidaymaker

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, January 2001 – March 2019. Rolling 12 month moving average, sample n=20.037. Base: Australians aged 14+.
New research from Roy Morgan’s recent State of the Nation Report on Travel shows almost 8-in-10 Australians would like to take a holiday in the next 12 months and some of their desired nations are surprising.

Now 78.6% of Australians aged 14+, would like to take a holiday in the next year, down 5% points over the last two decades since 2001/02. 72% of Australians would like to take a domestic holiday – that is to a destination in Australia (down 9.1%).

The top five preferred domestic holiday destinations are Australia’s two largest cities of Melbourne and Sydney followed by regional destinations including the Great Ocean Road (Torquay, Lorne, Port Fairy), the Tasmanian capital of Hobart and the Blue Mountains west of Sydney including Katoomba and Lithgow. We have covered the variety of domestic destinations different types of Australians choose here.

In contrast to the decline in desire for a domestic holiday an increasing number of Australians would like an overseas holiday with 49.5% naming an overseas destination, up 7.5% points since 2001/02.

English speaking countries dominate the top five most popular overseas destinations led by close neighbour New Zealand followed by the United States and England with Canada rounding out the top five. The sole exception is the top Asian destination Japan which is now the fourth most popular overseas destination.
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, January 2001 – March 2019. Rolling 12 month moving average, sample n=20.037. Base: Australians aged 14+.

Japan’s rise has been consistent over the last 15 years

Japan’s popularity as a holiday destination has been on the rise for an extended period of time. In early 2004 only 2.5% of Australians mentioned Japan as a holiday destination they would like to visit. The popularity of Japan as a holiday destination increased steadily over the next decade overtaking Thailand as the most popular Asian travel destination in early 2014.

In early 2014 5.5% of Australians wanted to holiday in Japan, just ahead of Thailand mentioned by 5.2% as a desired holiday destination. Since then Japan has increased by a further 4.3% points to 9.8% whereas Thailand has been largely steady between 4-5% and is now mentioned by 4.6%.

Other popular Asian holiday destinations include second favourite Bali (mentioned by 5.3% of Australians), Singapore (4.3%), Vietnam (3.6%) and mainland China (2.3%).

Though Japan is now a clear leader, all six destinations are now more popular as Australian holiday destinations than they were two decades ago in 2001. The increase for Japan has been clearly the most significant, increasing by 7.3% points from 2001, while the second biggest increase in preference is for Singapore which has increased by 1.9% points during the same period.

Asian destinations Australians would like to visit

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, January 2001 – March 2019. Rolling 12 month moving average, sample n=20.037. Base: Australians aged 14+.

Japanese appeal strongest for well-educated high income young men

Roy Morgan’s qualitative and quantitative research into the habits and preferences of Australians allows a comprehensive profiling and an in-depth understanding of what sets apart a traveller who might prefer the beaches of Bali to one who would prioritise the night-life and culture of a country like Japan.

A pen-portrait of the quintessential Australian intending to travel to Japan is a young man from one of Australia’s two largest States. This is no ordinary young man though as he’s well-educated with a degree behind him and working full-time in a high-earning professional or managerial role earning over $100,000 per year and disproportionately likely to be from the top AB socio-economic quintile.

In terms of values, the Young Optimism* or Socially Aware* (*Roy Morgan Value Segments) and is more likely than the average Australian to agree that ‘I am always ready to try new and different products’, ‘I will buy a product because of the label’ and ‘I enjoy clothes shopping’. Perhaps it is the food that attracts our intrepid traveller as he is far more likely than the average Australia to agree that ‘I enjoy food from all over the world’ and ‘If I see a new type of food I will try it’.

Perhaps unsurprisingly our ‘man looking to travel to Japan’ is far more likely than the average Australian to agree that ‘It only feels like a holiday if I leave Australia’ and ‘I prefer the bright lights and big cities when I travel’ while also being more likely to agree ‘I’m more interested in my job than my house’ and ‘If I could afford to eat out every night I would’.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan, says:

“Roy Morgan’s recent State of the Nation on Travel has revealed preference for overseas travel is increasing even as a declining proportion of Australians would like to take a holiday in the next 12 months.

“Now only 78.6% of Australians want to take a holiday in the next 12 months, down 5% points from two decades ago. This fall has been driven by a significant decline in Australians wanting a domestic holiday which has dropped nearly 10ppts to 72.1% over the same period while almost half of Australians (49.5%) would like an overseas holiday, up a significant 7.5% points from early in the 2000s.

“The most popular international destinations tend to be English speaking countries including New Zealand, England, the United States and Canada which are all within the top five preferred overseas destinations.

“However Japan has emerged as a top five preferred overseas holiday destination in the last five years and is clearly the preferred holiday destination for Australian travellers in Asia. Almost 10% of Australians would now like to visit Japan in the next two years, a doubling in preference for the North-East Asian country over the last six years.

“Traditional Asian holiday destinations such as Bali (mentioned by 5.3% of Australians) and Thailand (4.6%) are still relatively popular, and are mentioned by a higher proportion of Australians than in 2001, but both have fallen significantly behind Japan in the last five years.

“The rise of Japan as a preferred holiday destination for Australians has accelerated following the signing of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) in 2014/15. The JAEPA reduced economic barriers to trade between the two countries and made it easier for Australian businesses to invest in Japan and vice-versa.

“However the attraction of Japan appears to be a lot more than that –, a website dedicated to the best things about Japan claims ‘In Japan you can be weird and no one will care’.

“The rich profiling from Roy Morgan suggests this might be part of Japan’s attraction. Those wanting to go to Japan are more likely than the average Australian to be ‘always ready to try new and different products’.

“The good news for travel agents and those looking to cash in on the increasing popularity of Japan as a destination is that it attracts a high earning and spending demographic comprised primarily of young Australians under 35 years of age and over half of the Australians wanting to travel to Japan (54%) are in the two highest socio-economic quintiles.
“Contact Roy Morgan to learn more about the travel habits and preferences of Australians or browse our extensive range of travel profiles and reports including the comprehensive Holiday Travel Currency Report based on in-depth interviews with over 50,000 Australians each year as part of Roy Morgan’s Single Source survey.”
For comments or more information please contact:
Roy Morgan - Enquiries
Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309

About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%