Expedia annual global survey reveals Australians are the third most holiday deprived in the world

On April 15, 2009 at 02:00 PM
  • Japan and America are the only countries more holiday deprived than Australia
  • Forty per cent of Australians say the GFC has caused them to change their travel plans for 2009

Australian workers take fewer holidays than all other nations except Japan and America, holidaying on average for just 16 days of the year, according to online travel company Expedia’s annual global Vacation Deprivation® survey.

The survey, which in Australia was conducted by Pureprofile on behalf of Expedia.com.au™ (operated by Expedia, Inc., the world’s leading online travel company), found that 44 per cent of Australians do not take all of their entitled annual leave days, up from 38 per cent last year. 

The global financial crisis (GFC) has had a significant impact on Australians’ travel plans for 2009 with 40 per cent of people saying their plans have changed as a result; this is up from figures a year ago when the then-described ‘credit crunch’ deterred 32 per cent of people from taking leave. Those deferring holiday plans due to the GFC predominantly said they want to save money for a rainy day (54 per cent), have extra holidays accrued so they get an additional pay-out if they lose their job (17 per cent), or believed taking holiday entitlements could make their position vulnerable (14 per cent).

Despite the GFC and various other reasons deterring people from taking leave, when asked what they were likely to spend their government cash hand-out on, 15 per cent of Australians said they would spend all or most of it on travel rather than to settle debts, or on retail or home improvements. Thirty-five per cent of Australians believed taking a holiday would not jeopardise their jobs.

Generally speaking, when respondents were asked why they did not take all of their annual leave entitlements, 56 per cent said they want to carry holidays over to the next holiday year, followed by 34 per cent who said work commitments are too great to take time off. Nineteen per cent said there were too many financial pressures to take a holiday and 12 per cent said they feel guilty for not being at work.

The results of Expedia’s 2009 global Vacation Deprivation survey have been released just a short time after the launch of Tourism Australia’s ‘No Leave, No Life’ campaign. The Tourism Australia initiative aims to convert some of Australia’s stockpiled annual leave into domestic holidays by working with Australian businesses to foster a positive leave culture and reminding employees of the benefits of taking leave in Australia, after their research exposed how leave stockpiling is detrimental to business, employees and the Australian economy.

Findings by Tourism Australia reveal that rested employees improve workforce productivity, are more likely to be committed to the business and have better morale.

Despite this, Australian workers, who received on average 19 days of leave in the last year, left three days of their total annual leave entitlement unused, according to the Expedia® survey. This is behind only Japan, whose workers took only eight days, and the US, whose workers took only ten leave days in the past year.

The world’s most holiday deprived nations:



Annual leave days taken

1. Japan


2. United States


3. Australia


4. Canada


5. New Zealand


Throughout the nine years that the Expedia Vacation Deprivation survey has been conducted, the US has long held the infamous position of being the country with the worst work/life balance habits. This year however, workers in Japan gain the distinction for being the most holiday deprived nation on earth. Approximately 92 per cent of adult workers in Japan said they took only eight of the 15 annual leave days in the past year.

France continues to be the world’s most holiday-rich nation, receiving on average twice as much annual leave as Australians, with 38 days a year. The French also take the most leave each year, on average leaving just two days of their total annual entitlement untaken.

Other European countries also fared well. Those in Italy received 31 days (and used 25 days), Spain 30 days (using 27 days) and Germany and Austria received 27 days (using 25 days and 23 days respectively). The English are also holiday lovers receiving 26 days and with most working adults leaving no annual leave unused.

Louise Crompton at Expedia Australia said,“Europeans famously move to Australia in search of a better and more relaxed lifestyle, but in fact our Vacation Deprivation survey shows that they are likely to have more time to spend with family and friends in their home country. People working in European countries all have and take substantially more holidays than Australian workers and as a nation we are more than twice as likely not to take all of our allocated holidays than those working in Great Britain.”

Closer to home, New Zealanders enjoy a more positive leave culture than Australians, being allocated on average 21 days of leave per year and using 18 of them.

“This is the third year the Expedia Vacation Deprivation study has also been conducted in Australia, and we continue to fare badly in the holiday stakes, making the notion of Australians being laid back and work-shy most definitely a thing of the past. With Australians receiving fewer public holidays this year, workers are likely to become more fatigued and strengthens the case for them to take their full annual leave entitlements,” she said.

“At Expedia we believe people should recognise that holidays are an important part of maintaining a healthy work/life balance rather than viewing them as a ‘luxury’. “

“I hope the results of this survey will also encourage Australian businesses to adopt a more positive leave culture in line with the rest of the world.”

Ms Crompton added, “As a result of the global economic crisis, there are some fantastic travel deals at the moment and with Expedia.com.au you can select all your flights, accommodation, car hire and activities within the convenience of one site.”

To download this release, please click here:
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