Domestic travel sentiment falls to mid-2020 levels

Holidaymakers remain nervous due to ongoing border closures

Flinders Ranges, South Australia | credit: Tourism Australia

New research released by Tourism Australia has identified that domestic holiday booking intention has dropped to just 10%, according to the latest Domestic Sentiment Tracker.

Tourism Australia created the Travel Sentiment Tracker in April 2020 as a way to regularly monitor key confidence and travel indicators on a monthly basis, such as attitudes towards travel, travel intention, booking intention, drivers and barriers to travel, impacts of vaccinations on travel, consumer confidence and more.

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Consumer confidence among Australian travellers polled in mid-August was also at its lowest level since November 2020 (measured with a score of 90), compared to highs achieved in April 2021 when the score was 115. Tourism Australia cited the continuation of lockdowns in NSW and Victoria, along with the growth in COVID-19 cases for the overall negative sentiment towards travel.

All metrics declined during the 15-17 August 2021 wave, with booking intention (to holiday over the next two years) during the period on par with July 2020 when Victoria was in lockdown.

Source: Tourism Australia Travel Sentiment Tracking, 15-17 August 2021, Wave 29

The tracker found that while 38% of Australians are either considering or are keen to travel domestically as soon as possible, while 15% said current restrictions were inhibiting their travel – up four percentage points on the previous wave.

During the period other indicators identified compared to the previous wave included:

  • 5% more Australians were thinking about their next “dream” holiday, rising to 36%, however 41% of those surveyed don’t have their next holiday on their mind right now
  • Over half (59%) of Aussies feel like they need a holiday – the highest level since the tracking commenced
  • Travel restrictions are now the greatest barrier to taking a holiday (at a new high of 50%), following lows of less than 10% in mid-March 2021, and overtaking concern restrictions will change/impact travel plans (49%).

The tracker also provides a state breakdown for NSW, Queensland and Victoria, showing that residents in each state are most likely intending to take their next domestic holiday within the next three months.

Nationwide, Australians’ intention to travel overseas in the next six months remains at its lowest point since the tracker started, at just 7%. Tourism Australia notes that level was likely influenced by the Government’s announcement in May that international borders would remain closed until 2022.

Source: Tourism Australia Travel Sentiment Tracking, 15-17 August 2021, Wave 29

Commenting on the tracker results, Tourism Australia’s Andrew Hutchison, GM Domestic and New Zealand, said:

“Overall tourism industry sentiment is the lowest it has been since the start of the pandemic with the biggest challenges cited by tourism operators as domestic border closures, international travel restrictions, business cash flow, consumer confidence/demand and labour shortages.”

“Trends noted from key distribution partners include shorter lead times and last-minute bookings for intrastate travel to avoid border closures, with many clients’ keen to book, but still nervous about ongoing border closures. Self-drive, outdoor experiences are the most popular, and flexibility is a key driver over price for travel bookings,” Hutchison said.

The former Adventure World Travel executive also revealed that Tourism Australia’s next campaign launching in late October – and building on the current industry vaccination initiative – will encourage Australians to give the gift of travel over the holiday season.

“The objective of this campaign is to intercept consumers in their gift buying moments and convert Christmas retail shoppers from other categories to gift travel this year,” Hutchison said.

An industry update on 8 October will discuss this new integrated marketing campaign. Register to attend here.

To view Tourism Australia’s Travel Sentiment Tracking, Wave 29 report, click here.

Additionally, Tourism Australia has this week issued a ‘save the date’ for the Australian Tourism Exchange 2022. Next year’s event will follow the same successful hybrid format used in 2021, consisting of ‘ATE Live’, running between 8-11 May 2022, and ‘ATE Online’, from 16-26 May. The ATE Live location will be revealed soon.

Lead image: Flinders Ranges | Credit: Tourism Australia

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