‘Extraordinary rebound in travel’ since February, says Dalton

Virtuoso GM ANZ pinpoints the moment Australian travellers felt uncoupled

The 31st of January 2022 not only turned out to be a significant day in the career of Rafael Nadal’s tennis career, winning his second Australian Open in the early hours that Monday morning. It was the same date on the calendar that Fiona Dalton, the then freshly appointed General Manager of Virtuoso for Australia and New Zealand, says was a turning point in the confidence of Australian travellers’ to venture abroad again.

Speaking at an event in Sydney last Friday [13 May 2022], Dalton said that since Nadal’s crowning as the 32nd Australian Open Men’s champion, “we have seen nothing but the most extraordinary rebound in travel from that day forward”.

“The incredible pent-up demand for travel has returned in the luxury sector over the last few months,” Dalton said, noting that the global luxury travel network had remained active over the last two years to ensure its audience remained inspired to consider their next travel opportunities, when they would arise.

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Citing a series of external reports and inhouse research, Dalton said Australia was punching well above its weight in the wealth sector, with the island nation second only to Switzerland in terms of the average wealth of local consumers in 2020.

“We’ve certainly seen an extraordinary number of people saving through this period and spending in consumer areas around renovations, around art collections, wine collections. Everything but travel.”

With the rich getting richer in Australia during the pandemic, now there is “this need to travel regardless of time, regardless of costs,” Dalton said.

According to a five-year forecast by Knight Frank World Wealth Report 2022 the percentage growth in ultra-high net worth individuals is projected to rise by 28.3% globally, with Australasia and Asia the highest regions for growth at 33% each, ahead of North America (28%), Latin America (26%), Europe (25%), Middle East (24%) and Africa (11%).

Fiona Dalton, General Manager ANZ, Virtuoso

“We’ll certainly see some significant positive impacts continue over this next five-year period,” Dalton said with optimism.

She said that while globally there has been a “phased rebound” in different marketplaces, Tourism Economics is predicting Australia would be one of the last markets to recover in terms of international outbound leisure spending compared to figures of 2019. While a full recovery globally is tipped by 2023, Australia is likely to be later, towards the end of 2024.

Dalton discussing global the ultra-high net worth individual markets

Dalton did note that originally Tourism Economics had forecast Australia’s full recovery would be in the first half of 2025.

“So already we’re seeing with the extraordinary rebound over the last two or three months, the tourism economics data crunchers are telling us in fact, it’s going to come back faster than they first thought as well.”

AU/NZ outbound spending is expected to see a significant boost driven by the lifting of restrictions, while domestic spending growth will slow. According to Tourism Economics’ study, leisure travel spending will skyrocket a whopping 944.3% year-on-year in 2022, while domestic will be a more tame 47.5% rise. Those figures will fall back to 94.3% in 2023, and domestic back to 7.1% growth; dropping to 29% in 2025 and 5.5% for domestic in 2025.

Dalton also cited a Virtuoso Yougov 2022 survey of Aussie and Kiwi consumers that found most wanted to visit Australia and New Zealand in the Oceania region, followed by Fiji and French Polynesia. Destinations in Europe that were most favoured include Italy, UK, Germany and France; while in Asia, Japan was the frontrunner, then Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.

Where Virtuoso clients aspire to travel in 2022

“Australia’s love affair with Italy…particularly with the introduction of the Qantas flight from Perth to Rome over the summer months coming up this year certainly has led to our clients in Virtuoso really embracing the opportunity to travel to Italy again as soon as they can,” Dalton added. 

“So we do have some exciting opportunities ahead as Australians’ wealth continues to fuel the pent-up demand for travel,” she concluded.

Lead image: At last Friday’s event held at Crown Sydney, from left are Virtuoso’s: Jen Pagett, Account Manager; Fiona Dalton, GM ANZ; Matthew Upchurch, Chairman and CEO; Zoe Dean, Marketing Manager and Michael Londregan, SVP Global Operations.

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