Domestic tourism slashed by half

With a huge absence of international visitors, the survival of Australia’s tourism industry and many accom businesses depends on a buoyant domestic market but the latest government stats show a drop in domestic travel by almost a half across Australia.

There appears to be no silver lining down the track either, with the Government report stating that “early data for domestic overnight trips for July and August 2020 suggest that numbers will continue to be well down in these months”.

According to the latest snapshot from Tourism Research Australia’s National Visitor Survey, COVID-19 continued to have an enormous impact on Australia’s domestic tourism market throughout May and June. By the end of June 2020 domestic overnight tourism losses reached $17.7 billion (down 45 percent) although some improvement was seen in May and June the overnight spend still fell by 65 percent to $2.1 billion. This is a loss of $4 billion compared with June 2019.

Furthermore, the spend in June was down 65 percent due to the interstate border closures because interstate visitors typically stay longer and spend more. However, states with fewer active COVID-19 cases and less reliance on interstate travel had better results for June 2020, for example WA and SA.

Tourism Council WA responded to analysis showing domestic WA tourism declined by $353 million, or 49 per cent, in the 12 months to June 2020. It singled out Perth as the worst hit with domestic visitor dollars down 78 per cent, while regional WA fared better, showing a drop of 30 per cent.

However, Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall acknowledged some the good news from the survey was that domestic visitor numbers lifted from 443,000 in the year ending May to 797,000 in the year ending June as regional travel restrictions were lifted. However, WA domestic tourism was still down from the 1,095,000 visitors in January 2020 before the impact of COVID-19 and regional and interstate travel restrictions.

He said: “Perth businesses and staff are bearing the brunt of the domestic tourism downturn. Perth event venues, CBD hotels, coach operators and the airport are facing the greatest financial hardship.

“Accommodation and hospitality are booming in many regional areas, but businesses are hamstrung by the lack of workers travelling to regional WA to meet the surge. Across WA, tours and experiences are badly impacted by the loss of big spending interstate tourists. Tourism Council WA strongly supports the State Government’s investment in marketing campaigns to encourage locals to work in the regions, take a CBD hotel staycation, and support local tourism operators.

These are the best measures to sustain local tourism businesses and jobs until border restrictions can be eased and interstate visitors can return.

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