On Target? Australia’s overnight visitor spending is actually already above levels set for 2020

19 July, 2019

It appears that Australia's spectacular tourism offerings continue to capture the hearts of locals, with more Aussies than ever choosing to holiday in their own backyard. The country's latest National Visitor Survey shows that for the year ending Mar-2019, Australians took 109 million overnight trips around the country and spent a record AUD75 billion, up 14% on the previous year.

When combined with the International Visitor Survey, which showed that spending by international tourists had reached AUD44.3 billion, it means total overnight visitor spending has now reached a record AUD118.9 billion, surpassing the Federal Government's ambitious target of growing overnight visitor spend from AUD70 billion to AUD115 billion by the year 2020 as part of its Tourism 2020 strategy.

"Ten years ago we set a series of targets backed by all levels of government and the tourism industry, which aimed to increase Australia's competitive position as a destination and grow the economic impact of the industry by the year 2020," says federal tourism minister Simon Birmingham.

"I am proud to say that thanks to the continued hard work of the industry, tourism bodies and governments, we continue to exceed expectations with spend climbing beyond our target," he adds.

The findings of the National Visitor Survey make particularly good reading for Australia's domestic tourism efforts and initiatives. While you would expect significant spend from international arrivals in the big cities, they would also hold a strong majority share with domestic travellers, but the survey showcases that the benefits of these domestic trips are being felt beyond the capital cities, with over half of all overnight spend, or nearly AUD38 billion, occurring in regional areas.

Encouraging both domestic and international travellers to venture beyond the country's gateway cities has been a key focus of Tourism Australia's marketing campaigns, and these results puts Australia's regional destinations in a great position to continue to capitalise on the growth of the tourism industry.

"More than ever Australians are choosing to holiday at home and in particular, indulge in their love of the great outdoors with nearly a quarter of all domestic travellers enjoying a hike or walk as part of their holiday," highlights Minister Birmingham. "Australians continue to make the most of our incredible nature and wildlife offerings, with over half of all domestic overnight holidays involving outdoor or nature-based activities."

CHART - Australians are taking more domestic trips and spending more money, and that spreads across the whole countrySource: Tourism Research Australia

While trip numbers continue to increase, the average duration of a trip is in decline. The average length of a domestic overnight trip fell slightly, down -0.3% to 3.5 nights, while those travelling for holiday dropped further with average nights down -2%. This has been a continuing trend for some time with the average length of a domestic overnight trip having fallen by -13% since 1999 and -8% since 2009.

Interestingly, business travel continues to have a greater proportion of travel trips, nights and spend, continuing a recent trend. This has seen business travel grow its share of trips from 19% in 2013 to 23% in 2019, nights from 16% in 2013 to 21% in 2019, and spend from 23% in 2013 to 27% in 2019. The latter is much higher given the higher spending category due to stays in commercial accommodation and costs associated with vehicle and transport-related items.

The results also show that while all travel party types have recorded growth in the number of trips, those travelling alone or as part of a couple have been the strongest growing segments of domestic travel. One-third (35.8 million) of all domestic overnight trips were taken by those travelling alone, with a spend of AUD20.2 billion. The increase in trips is an additional 87% on the 2013 figure of 19.1 million trips.