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Domestic tourism has sprung into the limelight in 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and the direct implications it has had on international travel in the medium term.

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Domestic Tourism post Covid19

Domestic tourism has sprung into the limelight in 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and the direct implications it has had on international travel in the medium term. However domestic tourism has always been a large, yet somewhat undervalued, part of the Australian tourism system.

In 2019, overnight domestic tourism was responsible for $81B in visitor expenditure, significantly higher than international visitor spend of $45B (Tourism Research Australia, 2019). Domestic travellers are significantly more likely to spend time in Australia’s regions, and travel widely beyond cities and major tourism hubs. With 65% of all nights spent by domestic travellers being outside of capital cities and the Gold Coast, even prior to the COVID-19 crisis, domestic travellers were seen key to the recovery of regional tourism destinations that were decimated in the summer bushfires. This is especially pertinent given that international travellers spend less that 20% of their nights outside of capital cities and the Gold Coast (TRA, 2019).

One of the many challenges for tourism businesses moving forward in attracting the domestic traveller is combating the economic circumstances that Australians will be faced with through the remainder of 2020 and beyond. With 6 million Australians on the Job Keeper scheme (which will expire in September) and staggering levels of unemployment, coupled with rising household debt and consumer uncertainty, businesses will need to justify why Australians should spend their money with them, rather than saving it for the certain ‘rainy days’ that will eventuate over the coming months.

This will require businesses to highlight the benefits, beyond financial, that their experiences provide. Expect nature based and social experiences as well as local, food experiences that emphasise community and the local producer to be the driving forces of tourism marketing over the coming months. Last night (Friday May 15th) Tourism Australia’s domestic campaign launch, ‘Live from Australia’ already saw some of these elements, as well as a strong focus on the people behind the accommodations, tours and experiences.

Supporting each other is one of the best traits of Australians. Domestic tourism is one of the best ways to do this, while increasing the connection Australians have with themselves, each other and Australia. I encourage everyone, when it is safe to do so, to take that weekend getaway, stay in that caravan park, visit that boutique brewery and experience Australia as a tourist, not as just a resident of this beautiful country.

Hugh Fitzpatrick

Caravan Industry Association of Australia.

Chair, Young Tourism Network

If you are interesting in learning more, Hugh’s presentation is available on the member portal.

If you are not a member but are interested in learning more and becoming one please click here.

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