5 Insights To Drive Australia's Travel Industry Recovery


There are 300,000 businesses that make up our tourism industry and if we want to support them – Australians need to invest both time and money to experience this vast country we call home.

But, how do we get Australians to see what the rest of the world sees? Something exotic, untapped and just as culturally rich as any international destination? 

At Urban Insights, we’ve been tackling this exact question over the past few months with the goal to help those responsible for getting Australians back out there- the marketers, strategists, operators, business owners and industry leaders across the tourism industry.

Urban Insights is a joint venture from Australia’s leading voices in culture and strategic insights—Urban List, Nature and The Lab—with the aim of empowering thousands of Australian businesses with accessible, actionable data to thrive and help ignite a domestic travel boom. Our latest report–Wanderlust Or Wanderbust?: Travel Marketing In A New Australia contains 40 pages of intel and insight, created to help Australia’s tourism and travel bodies, brands and operators. 

From the 1,600+ survey responses to tourism marketing stimulus, AI analysis of 100,000+ travel-related social posts and one-on-one interviews with industry experts, here are five key insights travel marketers and business leaders need to know and action right now.

1.Modest behavioural shifts can and will have a sizeable impact.

In 2019, nine million international visitors came to Australia. They generated $31 billion dollars for the Australian economy. Sounds like a lot right? Well, it is, but Aussies spent $107 billion on domestic overnight travel and day trips – Over 3 times as much as international visitors. Beyond our domestic travel, we also enjoyed 11.6 million international trips which contributed $65 billion dollars to the global economy.

Despite these encouraging signs, almost half of that $65 billion ‘outbound’ spend would need to be redirected to domestic travel in order to make up for the $31 billion shortfall from international visitors. Whilst this seems unlikely, a modest increase in the average number of day trips and overnight domestic trips can have a sizable impact.

In 2019, Australians took on average 11 day trips which generated $26 billion and 19 overnight travel stays, generating a further $81 billion. If these averages were to rise to 12 day trips and 20 nights away, this would see an estimated $6.4 billion increase.

2. The sentiment is positive, we need to start convincing.

84% of Aussies say they’re now more interested in exploring Australia beyond the regions they already know, while 80% are now more interested in discovering their local region, but only one in three plan on spending the same amount of money as they would if they were travelling internationally. The challenge is how to pivot campaign messaging to convert the audience who are clearly ready and waiting. We need to convince Australians that our destinations aren’t just places — they are cultural experiences every bit as worthy of their investment as overseas destinations; experiences that are at their very best in this moment—uncrowded, safe and restorative.

3.Two fresh ‘target audiences’ have emerged.

And they’re ready to book. Deemed the ‘Opportunists’ and ‘Simplifiers’, these consumer segments are most likely to embrace and invest in domestic tourism experiences. They are more optimistic than the others: more adaptable, ready for new opportunities and largely positive about what is to come. They have taken time to reflect and reevaluate,  and ultimately want to experience more as a result of what’s gone down in 20/21.

4. Experiences dominate as the most sought after investment.

The experience economy continues to reign supreme over the hearts and discretionary spend of Australia’s Opportunists and Simplifiers, with travel the jewel in the experiential crown. 80% intend to take a domestic trip in the next six months. But there’s a catch: major cognitive dissonance. The sort of significant and transformative travel many Australians once dreamt of and associated with living life to the max, is no longer on offer. The aspirational goalposts have shifted and there’s a lot of work to be done–and a lot of opportunity to be had–in shifting attitudes so our destinations and tourism operators are sought-after; rather than the second option when international travel is no longer on the table.

5. It’s time to reposition how we market Australia.

Now more than ever, travel marketers and business leaders need to shift their messaging to resonate with Aussies, particularly the Opportunists and Simplifiers.

To do so, there are three key actions we need to stop doing, and start shifting towards:

  • Stop replacing the holiday ‘dream’ with a sense of ‘duty’ to travel domestically and support local businesses. Reignite the wanderlust we know consumers still have.
  • Stop using the ‘postcard snaps’ we flood overseas’ markets with. Shine a light on the unseen, the unique and the authentic.
  • Stop comparing Australia to international destinations. Create a hook that presents our destinations or experiences as #goals, not a fallback. 

Want to dive in deeper?

Unlock future-focused, up-to-date actionable insights to support you to: explore new creative territories that are capturing hearts and minds; understand the new breed of high value traveller and gain consumer insight on why some campaigns are flying and others are falling flat.

Purchase Wanderlust Or Wanderbust?: Travel Marketing In A New Australia now for only $295, reshape your 2021 strategy and go in the draw to win a $20,000 marketing campaign on Urban List. 

You can find out more about the Wanderlust Or Wanderbust?: Travel Marketing In A New Australia report and research at insights.theurbanlist.com.