The Covid-19 pandemic changed the nature of Australian tourism, but as restrictions lift and traveler confidence increases, human movement data can guide us to emerging trends around:
Near recently studied the visitation patterns to four popular tourist destinations in Australia – Byron Bay, Cairns, Gold Coast and Noosa, comparing the peak holiday season in December-January for the past 3 years. The findings helped illuminate how tourism has evolved in recent years, and provide some guidance on where things may be going next.
Here are a few of the emerging trends:
Destinations showed strong signs of recovery
The four destinations saw a collective 54% increase in visitors in the 2021-22 holiday season versus the previous year, though were still 12% below the pre-pandemic 2019-20 holiday season.
Normalized Visitors per Holiday Season
Of the destinations, Noosa has been recovering best, reaching higher levels of visitors than pre-pandemic, with 24% more visitors in 2021-22 versus 2019-20. This may be partly due to its proximity to Brisbane - Noosa saw a 50% increase in visitors coming from Brisbane in 2021-22 vs 2019-20.
Most visitors have been coming from urban hubs & nearby cities
The destinations saw most visitors coming from urban hubs, particularly Brisbane and Sydney, as well as cities near each destination. Visitors were also overwhelmingly coming from nearby - 71% of tourists were coming from within a 2 hour drive (200km) in the 2021-22 holiday season. Meanwhile, international visitors decreased 90% from 2019-20 representing less than a half percent of visitors in 2021-22.
Visitors staying longer, with the biggest increase in those staying 4+ weeks
Each destination saw a big shift in how long visitors stayed as urban visitors coming from Brisbane, Sydney and other cities made these lifestyle destinations a longer-term refuge. Total unique visitors staying 4+ weeks increased by 57% in 2021-22 vs 2019-20 holiday seasons.
Change in Visitors Reopening vs Pre- Pandemic
The share of trips more than 6 days long increased from 28% Pre-Pandemic to 37% in 2021-22.
With the increase in long-term visitors from urban destinations, there have been ripple effects on everything from rent to co-working spaces in these destinations. More long-term visitors (4+ weeks) coincide with rent & home value increases across lifestyle destinations.
Change in Long-Term Visitors & Rent vs Pre- Pandemic
Implications for tourist destinations
Learn more about the points of interest people are most interested in, and implications for tourist destinations.
Download the full report on Emerging Trends in Australian Tourism.
Near studied four Australian tourist destinations (Byron Bay, Cairns, Gold Coast, Noosa) across 3 holiday seasons (defined as December 15th – January 30th, 2019-20, 2020-21, and 2021-22). Reports used include Estimated Visitors, Common Evening Location, Dwell Time, and Brand affinity reports.