UNWTO stresses the crucial role of domestic tourism

Australia: home to the world's 14th largest domestic tourism market

Domestic tourism will act as a catalyst for countries around the world to recover from the social and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has forecast.

According to the authority, there were around nine billion domestic tourism trips made worldwide in 2018 – six times the number of international tourists arrivals of 1.4 billion – and domestic trips accounted for 75% of total tourism spending in OECD countries.

For Australia, more than nine out 10 tourist trip arrivals in 2018 were domestic.

“UNWTO expects domestic tourism to return faster and stronger than international travel. Given the size of domestic tourism, this will help many destinations recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, while at the same time safeguarding jobs, protecting livelihoods and allowing the social benefits tourism offers to also return,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikshvili.

The UNWTO’s latest update to its Tourism and COVID-19 Briefing Notes, ‘Understanding Domestic Tourism and Seizing its Opportunities’ highlights steps being undertaken by destinations around the world to grow domestic tourism. Offerings have included bonus holidays for workers or providing vouchers and incentives to citizens to holiday at home. Those incentives ultimately extend the tourism season, and in some markets, enable lower-income households access to holidays this year.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona in the USA. The United States has the largest domestic tourism market in the world in terms of expenditure.

Globally, the largest domestic tourism markets in terms of expenditure are the United States with nearly US$ 1 trillion, Germany with US$249 billion, Japan US$201 billion, the United Kingdom with US$154 billion and Mexico with US$139 billion.

Where Australia sits

In terms of tourist trips, the data found that India, China and the United States were the three largest domestic tourism markets (due to their populations and geographical size), with Japan, Brazil, France and Spain also substantial markets. Australia was positioned as the 14th largest domestic tourism market.

The US had the highest ratio of tourist trips to population at 5.1 domestic trips per capita in 2018. Australia (with 4.2 trips) was next, followed by Spain (3.7 trips) and The Republic of Korea (3.2 trips).

Australia was the third-largest market for expenditure on domestic tourism, relative to population, behind Iceland and the Netherlands.

Initiatives to drive domestic tourism

The updated brief also discusses initiatives created to promote domestic tourism, including marketing, product development, partnerships, intelligence and capacity building and training.

Numerous examples are shared from countries such as Greece, Italy, France, Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand, Serbia, Romania, Macao, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Denmark and Fiji.

A tourist walking the streets of an Asian city

Interestingly, Australia wasn’t included in the case study examples for national initiatives, marketing and promotion initiatives or product development initiatives, most likely as a result of the lack of cohesion between states and territories on border closures.

An online map developed by Tourism Australia to help Australians navigate its inconsistent domestic border restrictions was, however, listed as one of a handful of global marketing intelligence initiatives. Similarly, Tourism Australia’s domestic-focused Aussie Specialist program was one of just four examples of capacity building and training initiatives.

To view the UNWTO’s brief update, click here.

Lead image credit: Jake Portlock from Pixabay 

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