Spotlight on Australia
2 June 2021
Andrew Hutchinson was appointed General Manager Domestic and New Zealand in August 2020. Prior to joining Tourism Australia, Andrew worked for Adventure World Travel as Head of Product and Operations, and Pinpoint Travel Group as Director of Wholesale Travel. Andrew has multi-geography and disciplinary experience in Travel across the retail, wholesale, and online sectors, as well as Marketing in B2C and B2B channels.
HOW IS LIFE IN Australia AT THE MOMENT?
Life in Australia is as a close to normal as it has been in the last year, other than occasional cluster outbreaks which are managed swiftly and efficiently, albeit with occasional lock downs and temporary border closures. Freedom of movement and lifestyle choices are rarely hindered, other than having to plan and book for your favourite restaurants and activities.
At a macro level Australia’s domestic tourism recovery is doing well with an optimistic outlook. Overnight trips for February 2021 were down 10 per cent on the same period in 2020 and down 13 per cent in expenditure. Based on the current growth trajectory, domestic tourism trips and expenditure is forecast to return to 2019 levels by the end of 2021. Consumer confidence amongst Australian travellers was at 115 in mid-April, the highest level in over a year, and the overall economy is recovering at a faster level than government forecasts.
Despite the optimistic outlook tourism recovery is uneven due to domestic travel being unable to make up for international travel, with the added challenge that over 51 per cent of Australians are delaying booking domestic travel for 6 to 12 months or more. However, people have money and are willing to spend, driven by an increase in personal savings, which averaged 9.57 per cent from 1959 until 2020, reaching an all-time high of 22 per cent in the second quarter of 2020.
For domestic travel to thrive our job is to nudge immediacy, and convince those Australians delaying their travel plans to bring their plans forward and book a holiday now. This will help mitigate the risk of domestic tourism competing with other discretionary spend categories such as white goods, new cars, home renovations and property investment.
WHAT IS THE LATEST NEWS FROM OUR KEY STAKEHOLDERS IN MARKET?
Industry sentiment for the domestic market outlook has significantly improved since December 2020 with respondents much more optimistic for the short-term, according to Tourism Australia’s Regional Tourism Organisation quarterly survey.
Tourism Australia’s national conversion partners have been promoting travel with confidence and flexibility to ensure Australians feel comfortable and safe when booking a domestic holiday, with an emphasis on the importance of flexible booking terms in the event of changed travel plans due to COVID-19 outbreaks and border closures.
Feedback from industry suggests that a number of businesses are being impacted by labour shortages and snap border closures and that many operators are struggling to retain staff and fill vacancies, which means many tourism hotels and operators are unable to operate at capacity.
WHAT ARE TOURISM AUSTRALIA’S KEY AREAS OF FOCUS IN THESE CHALLENGING TIMES?
Tourism Australia’s overarching domestic strategy is to get Australians to travel like international tourists do by seeing more, doing more, travelling for longer and spending more. Our key focus is on driving tourism recovery in market failure regions that previously relied on international tourists, where domestic tourism hasn’t been able to bridge the gap. Destinations included our capital cities, Cairns, parts of Tropical North Queensland, The Gold Coast and The Great Ocean Road to name a few.
The other significant challenge is driving an increase in domestic tourism expenditure. Traditionally Australians spend much less on domestic holiday than they do travelling overseas or compared to international tourists in Australia. Looking at the 2019 data, there is a significant gap and opportunity to influence spend encouraging Australians to book more activities and experiences, stay longer and booking additional holidays throughout the year. The 2019 comparison reads:
- For international tourists in 2019, 9.5million international visitors spent a record $45 billion in Australia, and an average of $5,210 per trip.
- Australians took nearly 10 million overseas trips in 2019, sending $65 billion with an average spend of $6,520 per trip.
- When Australians travel at home, the average spend of a domestic trip is far less, at about $690 per trip.
The Aussie Specialist Program (ASP) is a key education platform helping agents pivot to domestic, facilitating an increase in product knowledge and confidence selling Australia. Launched in early 2020, the ASP currently has 2400 qualified agents, with program evolution and development remaining a key focus in the year ahead, in addition to retention and growth of the ASP database.
IN THESE TRYING TIMES, WE COULD ALL DO WITH SOME GOOD NEWS. WHAT HAS PUT A SMILE ON YOUR FACE RECENTLY?
On a visit to Kangaroo Island recently, watching the excitement of my 7-year old at Seal Bay Conservation Park on seeing a recently born baby seal for the first time. Joyful to watch!
FINALLY, WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THE AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRY WANTING TO STAY ENGAGED WITH THE Australian MARKET?
Tourism Australia provides a variety of industry tools and resources to stay up to date and engaged with the Australia market.
Visit the Tourism Australia Corporate Website to access a range of helpful statistics including domestic marketing performance, aviation statistics and the domestic tourism snapshot. You will also be able to view Tourism Australia’s latest campaigns and webinars.
Tourism Australia produces a range of industry, media, and special interest newsletters. Published every Wednesday, Essentials provides updates on Tourism Australia’s campaigns, Australian tourism industry news and events as well as industry opportunities and new destination and product news.
The Aussie Specialist Program (ASP) is Tourism Australia’s global online training program, shared by all eight state and territory tourism partners designed to provide frontline travel sellers from around the global with the knowledge and skills to best sell Australia.
The Trade Resource Hub is where our trade, media and key distribution partners can access tourism brand resources. The Trade Resource Hub includes, but is not limited to logos, articles, media kit, images, fonts, user guides, brand images, Signature Experiences assets and media materials.
Tourism Australia undertakes regular research via the Consumer Demand Project to understand how consumers view Australia as a holiday destination, and what most motivates them to travel to and around Australia; this also includes the Travel Sentiment Tracker which launched in April 2020 as a new piece of research to help us understand shifting consumer behaviour and travel sentiment.
Tourism Australia’s specialist business events unit, Business Events Australia, regularly undertakes research on the sentiment of domestic corporate decision makers. You can read the latest research here. You can also access business events specific tools for industry here.