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Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines were among the fastest growing destinations of choice for record numbers of Australian holidaymakers who travelled overseas in 2011.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows the number of Australians taking overseas holidays in 2011 jumped to 7.8 million, nearly two million more international trips than in 2010.

New Zealand, Indonesia and America were the most popular destinations, departures to Thailand grew by more than 23 and the Philippines by 20, while Vietnam and India also grew in popularity.

Australian Federation of Travel Agents CEO Jayson Westbury told that the strong dollar, cheap flights and Australia's strong economy led to the boom in overseas travel. Westbury also suggests that political problems in Fiji may have caused travellers to divert to Bali, and that Thailand bounced back from the Bangkok floods.

Meanwhile, the numberinternational arrivals to Australia fell by almost 10,000 in 2011, to 5.8 million international visitors, causing Australia's annual tourism balance of trade deficit to near AU$8 billion (US$8.6 billion), says Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) boss John Lee.

"A record 1.4 million Australians went to Thailand and Indonesia last year, meaning fewer people chose an Australian beachisland resort holiday," Lee said in a statement.
"With the dollar likely to remain strong for some time and investment in new resorts in South-East Asia, many leisure tourism operators in Australia are facing an uncertain future.

"Growth from emerging markets including China, now our third largest source country, Indonesia, India and the Philippines has not made up for the falls.

"Although we are expecting arrivals from many Asian markets to continue to trend up, we cannot afford to take that for granted and we cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result."

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