Anthony Dennis noted that in 2011-12, Australians made a record 8 million short-term overseas trips, according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics, compared with just over 3 million in 2001-02. The top five destinations were New Zealand, Indonesia (Bali, ostensibly), the US, Thailand and Britain. And Australians are on track to take 10 million such trips a year by 2020, based on a recent report by Tourism Australia. (www.smh.com.au
Cited was Jayson Westbury of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents. "Everyone wants us, particularly in Europe and Asia … we're big spenders … we love to shop and we love to eat and drink. The dollar would have to fall to 50¢ for this balloon to burst. We're valued as travellers because we're high-value travellers."
It was noted that the Australian Passport Office in Canberra had 1,747,670 Australian passports issued in 2011-12 compared with 981,409 in 2001-02. That necessitates the printing of 7500 to 8000 passports five days a week.
Anyone even remotely associated with Christian associations in Australia immediately recognise that among that 'travel number' include numerous ministry trips. After 35 years in Christian ministry including not infrequent international travel when the Australian cricket team chaplain (17 years), Olympic ministry since 1984 and now coordinating the Basil Sellers Laguna Quays missionary respite cottage with a constant flow of mission visitors, I've some measure of understanding in this matter.
There are three quite separate types of missionary travel. These are the missionaries and their families travelling and then back and forth over the years for furlough and deputation ministry among the churches to raise awareness of their mission activities. One example of thousands upon thousands of missionaries: Barcelona Olympian Darren Lawson and his wife Rosemary and their family of three ministered for some years in Russia and this necessitated travel to and fro on several occasions during those years.
Another missionary travel "type" is that of short term missionaries who travel to their destinations for anything up to six months and then return. Some of these are short term two to three month commitments or even really short term teams travelling to such places as Africa, Asia and the Pacific engaged in building projects. Many Australian Baptist Churches run such building project teams to assist a variety of Baptist and Non-Denominational Missions.
The third missionary travel 'type' is the family and friends of long term missionaries who travel to visit them. We've known many missionary families who have taken their annual holidays to visit their adult children and their families who are visiting overseas. Many friends of missionaries likewise engage in such trips. Not that long ago good friends of ours from Batemans Bay Baptist Church, Bill Laudenbach and Danny Graham visited missionary friends in Africa.
Even a cursory glance illustrates there are huge numbers of travel trips associated with missionary endeavours.
You can't keep a committed Australian Christian away from the temptation of an international Christian conference and the numbers of such Christian conferences are like flies around the bushman's hat.
The types of Christian conferences are legion - there are denominational, inter-denominational, inter-church, mission, specialist Christian ministry, evangelistic, church growth, Christian media, Sports ministry, Christian Culture, Christian Bands, Christian Choirs ….. the list is endless. For example, in recent years I've been involved with international Christian conferences in Britain, USA, Canada, Switzerland, France, Poland, Ukraine, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia.
Most recently it was the Australasian Religious Press Association annual conference held in Wellington, New Zealand. My wife Delma accompanied me as is our custom and we bought along two of our ministry's young writers. The conference was packed. Multiply this thousands upon thousands fold of Australian Christian delegates to international conferences of one sort or another, little wonder the Australian Passport office is as busy as it is.
An equal number of Australian Christian leaders travel to speak at international engagements associated with churches, seminars, workshops, conferences and personal ministry. Some go alone, many with their wife (depending on the needs of the family at home). In any given week, from my many years in Christian ministry, there would be no less than 2000 such ministry trips in any given month.
This is a huge sphere of International Christian Ministry for Australian Christian Leaders and Australians are sought after as for whatever reason, we present a national trait of an earthy version of Christian teaching and plenty of good humour which is squarely focused on ourselves. We're loved !
Add to all this, low cost air fares, minimal cost accommodation and a dose of disposable income, Australian Christian international travel can only increase and build to the national audit of such tripping around. For Christians, the purpose is entirely different to that of hedonistic tourism or high flying business, rather the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at