Australians holidaying in their own backyard this year will be critical to helping our tourism industry get back on its feet, with new quarterly data revealing the impact of the bushfire crisis and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on international and domestic visitation.
The latest tourism data from Tourism Research Australia shows that international visitation fell 28 per cent in the March quarter, while spend was down 27 per cent, or $3.9 billion. Domestic overnight travel also fell in the March quarter, with spend down 10 per cent to $17.9 billion and overnight trips down 18 per cent to $24.3 million.
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said that the June quarter data was likely to be even worse, highlighting the pain being felt across the tourism sector.
“The Morrison Government’s decision to close our international borders, and other necessary restrictions have played a critical role in keeping Australians safe and has helped to suppress the spread of COVID-19,” Minister Birmingham said.
“Border and travel restrictions, whilst necessary, have hit our tourism industry hard. All Australians owe thanks to tourism businesses and employees who have borne the brunt of restrictions to keep us safe from COVID-19
“Our economic support, including cash payments to businesses of up to $100,000 and the JobKeeper payment, has given hundreds of thousands of tourism businesses across Australia a lifeline to help them get through the COVID-19 crisis.
“As government considers what future assistance may be necessary beyond September, the best thing that many Australians can do to support these businesses is to book a holiday here in Australia.
“With our international borders expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future, our priority right now is getting Australians travelling to parts where we have successfully suppressed the spread of COVID-19.
“As some state borders begin to open up in the next few weeks, the best thing that can happen for our tourism industry right now, is for people to make bookings and undertake trips to regions where it is safe to do so, because this will help save a small business or the job of a fellow Australian.
“In the coming months, we will also be ramping up domestic marketing activities to highlight the diverse and incredible experiences that are on offer across our country, to encourage Australians to travel again and generate economic activity in our tourism regions.”
Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism Jonno Duniam said there had never been a more important time to support regional tourism and hospitality businesses than now.
“Our regional economies have been hit hard by COVID-19, and as the hundreds of thousands of small businesses that make up our tourism industry begin to reopen they need support from locals and intrastate travellers,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.
“The tourism industry has proven to be incredibly resilient, time and time again, but it’s important Australians explore their own backyard, visit a local tourist attraction or stay overnight in a regional town.
“Australians have been itching to get out of their living rooms, and now the time is right for many of us to holiday at home and spend money in regions that need our help.”
The latest International Visitor Survey results and National Visitor Survey results are available on the Tourism Research Australia website at: www.tra.gov.au