If the pandemic has had a silver lining, it is that it has encouraged Australians to rediscover the wonders of our own country.
A strong recovery in domestic tourism is underway. Overnight domestic visitor spend between April and June 2022 was 29% higher than the corresponding pre-pandemic quarter (Source: Tourism Research Australia, National Visitor Survey, June quarter 2022).
Regional Australia has seen major benefits from this desire to holiday locally. Comparing the June quarter 2022 with the same period in 2019, there were:
As overseas travel becomes easier, how can the tourism sector continue attracting homegrown travellers?
Travelling overseas involves more planning, time, greater commitment and greater expense. Differences in language, currency and culture remove the experience from the 'everyday'. Australian travellers overseas are more likely to justify their spending on shopping, dining out and experiences such as tours.
Australians may perceive their own country to be less interesting because it is familiar. Or they may think they will have plenty of time to discover Australia 'later'.
In short, they do not have the same 'tourist mindset' as when travelling overseas.
Austrade has been working with the Behavioural Economics Team of Australia, which advises there are several ways to encourage a tourist mindset among homegrown travellers.
Several trends are evident among today's travellers. These include:
About 60% of Australian millennials say they want to experience authentic culture when they travel (Source: Austrade, Opportunities for the visitor economy, June 2021). Australia is home to one of the world's oldest continuous cultures, yet domestic visitors may not be aware of the variety of experiences available.
Promoting First Nations experiences more strongly may help tap this potential market.
There are also opportunities for visitors to engage with local people to gain first-hand experience of activities like jackerooing, fishing or oyster farming.
Coming out of the lockdowns and restrictions of the pandemic, people may be more likely to treat themselves to a wellness break. Providing easy to book add-ons for wellness tourism may encourage domestic travellers to indulge in a spa visit or health retreat.
Some tourism businesses are collaborating with tourism authorities to develop fresh itineraries. This can entice domestic travellers to try something new.
For example, Penrith City Council promotes itineraries for two market segments: active families and adventure lovers. Each itinerary suggests activities from which travellers can choose their own adventure in the city.
Big Red Group and Destination Cairns are working together to enable hotel guests in Far North Queensland to easily book activities from their room or a lobby kiosk.
With Tourism Tasmania’s Trip Planner, visitors can map out their entire trip. The Trip Planner includes links to accommodation, sights and activities that visitors might enjoy as they travel through the Apple Isle.
Carefully considering the needs and desires of Australian travellers can help build the domestic tourism sector and contribute to greater resilience.
Encouraging Australians to travel and spend domestically as they would overseas is one of the actions of THRIVE 2030, the national strategy for the sustainable growth of the visitor economy.